I was psyched to hear that Hugh Jackman was going to be reprising his role as Wolverine in another solo outing after the mishap that was Xmen Origins. I really thought that this, an iconic story where Logan travels to Japan, was the best chance that the studio had to redeem the concept of a lone Wolverine movie.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite so cut and dried.
Set after the events of Xmen the Last Stand, though thankfully Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey is the only reminder of that train wreck, and even then it’s not as bad as all that. After being forced to kill the woman he loved Logan is living a secluded life vowing to never hurt anyone again, and claiming that the beast he was is no more.
Now it’s Wolverine, that’s not going to go very well is it?
When a Japanese man he once saved finds Logan and along with his thanks, offers Logan a gift to equal the life he once saved, the story really starts.
From there on in it’s quite a family affair with Wolverine, the self professed bodyguard of the man’s granddaughter, taken out of his comfort zone both physically and culturally.
The theme of a hero outside their comfort zone was tackled earlier this year in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, unfortunately the outcome that is The Wolverine doesn’t quite strike the same chord as RDJ’s last outing.
However, this movie is, for the most part, enjoyable. James Mangold really pulled it out on the action scenes, the combinations of swords, claws and arrows (I’m a sucker for a good archer, Barton) are fantastic fun. They’re stylish, deadly and since he looses his infamous healing ability from the second act we do feel some danger for Wolverine, which adds some drama. (and hush now, that’s not a spoiler, they makes that perfectly plain in the trailer.)
But the film really suffers in its down time. The dialogue is stiff, clunky and when it’s expositional, boy is it ever expositional. It just drags, we’re told how two characters feel about each other, but we’re never shown relationships build.
This is a film about family, honour and betrayal, and it’s going to take a bit more than a long shot at someone’s face as they realise; ‘Oh wait I should be helping them’ to convince us that these characters really mean anything to one another.
The ending is a bit of a mess too. Allegiances are swapped and turned on a sixpence, with very little reasoning behind the motivations. And the frenzy of the final set piece can get a little overpowering.
In all the whole film felt slightly hollow, it felt like a filler between the saga started by Brian Singer in 2000 and the ‘reboot’ from Mathew Vaughn in 2011, which is essentially what it is. I just think it could have bridged the gap a little better.
But at its core The Wolverine is an enjoyable movie. Sure it’s a bit long winded in places, but when it’s fun, it’s really fun. You go to a Wolverine film to see some fellows get stabbed and some other fellows get sliced, and Wolverine going out of his way to get what he wants. It’s an action film, and if that’s what you want, then that’s what you get from the Wolverine.
Oh and if you have any history of watching Marvel films, you should know by now that you should stay for the end credits. And the post credit sequence for this one really is fantastic, especially if you’re a fan of the two sagas.