Infinitely better than the previous film. While this has moments of pretentiousness and the plot is somewhat predictable (I saw the twist in the ending coming from miles away), it’s full of fascinating characters.
The story takes place mostly in Japan, where Wolverine has gone to say goodbye to a dying friend, led by a red-haired Japanese fortuneteller who is a fascinating puzzle. While there he meets the old man’s granddaughter, and when her life is threatened, he seeks to protect her. She, too, is intriguing. Then there are the bad guys, particular the snake woman. All the characters are fighters, with their own styles and weapons, which makes for interesting match ups.
A key part of what makes this movie interesting is that Wolverine loses his healing powers and becomes mortal. Unfortunately, he’s still so stupid/pigheaded/reckless that he doesn’t change his fighting style, repeatedly getting shot point blank as though he’s still immortal. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I did like that he’s forced to confront his inner demons and decide if he really wants to die.
There are a few confusing scenes (flashbacks aren’t ideal), some questions weren’t answered, and I kept mixing up a few of the characters, but the film’s vastly clearer than the previous nonsensical mud pit. The action here is subdued and less outrageous, but excellent, and far more interesting with Wolverine being vulnerable. The ending was a little anticlimactic and predictable, but overall this is a fun ride. If you’re a fan of the series or the characters, you’ll enjoy this. It’s a little different with it being almost entirely set in Japan, but I found that refreshing. Two thumbs up.