Loosely adapted from an essential 1980s comics storyline co-created by artist and sometime filmmaker Frank Miller (“Sin City”), “The Wolverine” dispatches its hero to Japan to grapple with a sinister criminal element and his own virtual immortality. For the uninitiated, the scene shift is surprising — and an effective way of dramatizing and accentuating the hero’s dual nature.
Building on the previous installment’s glimpse of Wolverine as a combatant in many wars, the story opens on an eerie flashback to WWII Nagasaki, where he’s a POW who saves a Japanese soldier from the bomb. Cut to the present-day Yukon, where Logan is now a headcase with a mountain man’s beard and lingering visions of lost love Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), the X-Men teammate he was forced to put down. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.