Review: “The Wolverine”

There’s something to be said about an economical summer blockbuster. Many tent-pole movies rely too much on wanton destruction — scientists estimate that the damage in Man of Steel’s climax would cost more than 9/11 — and the action suffers for it. When a director’s vision expands to the leveling of a city, he or she sacrifices spatial coherence for it. With The Wolverine, director James Mangold eschews spectacle in favor of taut, stylized violence. His approach applies to more than the action scenes: this a self-contained story built around character moments, vulnerability, and the meaning of death. Mangold does not quite veer the iconic hero toward meaning — the character is simply too ridiculous for that — yet his foray into X-Men is mildly satisfying in an old-fashioned way.

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