The Wolverine takes a much more personal stance than any of the other X-Men films. They take a common philosophical problem, existentialism, and turn it on its head a bit. Whereas the problem with existentialism usually is coming to terms with one's own mortality, in The Wolverine, Logan must come to terms with his immortality. After killing Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand, Logan must forgive himself and find reason for living again. While part of me wishes that the studio had had the balls to kill off their main source of revenue from the X-Men franchise, there's another part of me that kind of admires that they did something unique with the existential crisis, even if it was clearly out of a necessity to perpetuate this franchise. I liked this film a lot because it's so insular. You really don't need to see this in order to watch any of the other X-Men films, and really only X-Men: The Last Stand is needed to be seen before catching The Wolverine (though making someone sit through X-Men: The Last Stand is probably a sin). They did make a point of taking away Wolverine's adamantium claws which will later be ret-conned without any discernible reason, which is kind of frustrating.
The filmmakers proved that, yet again, Tokyo is beautiful to film and I liked a fair number of the set pieces. I mean, when was the last time you saw a film that made a fight on top of a train interesting? Mangold is very hit or miss, but he showed some chops here. He's rumored to direct a Wolverine sequel, and if he can pull off another one like this, I'll be very happy.
The writing is great for the first two acts of the film. I loved the sleuth aspect, and was constantly trying to figure out how everything was going to tie together. Not well is the answer. The Viper character proved to be incredibly meaningless and Khodchenkova's portrayal left a lot to be desired. I guess the writers felt they needed a third mutant in this film because X-Men is always bloated with characters. This almost felt like a bit of studio meddling. You could tell they wanted a more honed in story, but that wouldn't have felt as much like an "X-Men" movie. The plot also came together in an incredibly convoluted and unnecessary way. I liked all the various characters trying to make Power Plays, but the final reveal of Yashida being alive and wanting to get Logan to this "secret" base was awful. They had Logan back at his house and weakened, I don't know why they felt the need to fake his death and then try to lure Yashida out to that site. His silver samurai was also incredibly unnecessary. A mix between a Darth Vader suit and a machine for extracting Logan's immortality, it just felt impractical.
I really hate how this film ended, mostly because I loved the rest of the film so much. It really showcased how there are interesting directions they can take these characters, and unexplored facets of their characters that are worthwhile to make films out of.