The Wolverine was one of the blockbuster releases of the summer of 2013, with a $125-million budget and a Japan-oriented plot of the kind that so often seems aimed at capturing overseas revenue. The Wolverine character is a spinoff from the X-Men series of action films, which at the time of the release of The Wolverine numbered half a dozen, with more in the works. American composer Marco Beltrami, although he had as yet had no direct connection with the series, was a relevant choice: he had previously worked with director James Mangold (on 3:10 to Yuma), and he had a long history in horror and related genres. Beltrami draws on the latter vocabulary in this moody score, which favors dark psychological tension over kinetic action scenes and often pushes the dissonance content of cinematic orchestral music close to its limits. Beltrami cleverly runs counter to expectations in another way as well, acknowledging the film's samurai themes with some Japanese flute passages and taiko drum sounds, but keeping them largely in the background. The music is mostly devoted to the states of mind of the mutant Wolverine. With the filmmakers backing an ambitious score for large orchestra by a composer who appears to be hitting his creative peak, this is a worthwhile pick for film music fans in general, as well as those brought to it by the brooding Wolverine himself.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim