The Wolverine (12a)
Directed by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee
Running time: 123mins
After isolating himself from society Logan, The Wolverine, is drawn back into a war when a man he saved a long time ago contacts him to finally say goodbye…
The signs were all good for this. Mangold was a solid director (Girl, Interrupted, Copland, Walk The Line) and Jackman himself quick to point out the shortcomings of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and vocal about how this one improved on it. And the comic story/graphic novel it was based on was something of a classic.
But somewhere along the way it all went wrong. And it’s sort of difficult to pinpoint where exactly. The story itself is a very, VERY lose adaptation of the Miller and Claremont book and sees Wolverine wrapped up in a war between the Yakuza and the most powerful family in Japan while falling in love with the head of the family’s granddaughter Mirako (Tao Okamoto).
And, for the most part it’s pretty well handled and would feel at home with James Bond – not a bad thing, given the feel Mangold is going with here. However the pacing is all off – but, know that old adage that sometimes if you see the trailer you see the movie? That applies here, only here the pacing is very slow and you can’t help feeling it was meant to be slow, arthouse almost, when in fact it leaves you wondering if it’s going anywhere. For the two plus hours run-time, the script would fit on a stamp.
So pacing is an issue. The effects too are a mix of the laughable – slicing through bottles that fall apart seconds later – really? Haven’t comic book movies advanced beyond that by now? – to plain crazy: with the train top fight rating as the wtf minute of the summer… and not is a good way.
Jackman puts in a solid performance, as do the rest of the cast, but for some reason it never quite works – could it be that Wolverine, the backbone of the first three X-Men movies, works as part of a team but when it comes to holding a movie he just – so far – hasn’t got what it takes? It probably doesn’t help that this summer has turned out so many fun blockbusters, but The Wolverine just feels flat.
It’s clear that Fox had the basis for what could have been a highlight in the X-Men movie franchise – a story that always finds itself in comic fans’ top tens, a director who was solid and had promise and Jackman has proven he still has the physical presence and strength to make the character work, but sadly instead of doing the wise thing and sticking to the plot and essence of the character, they changed things pointlessly and, for example, made the Silver Samurai something that belongs in a Power Rangers movie.
Overall it’s not terrible, it’s just so… dull. Once again Wolverine has been short-changed and left neutered on the floor which is unforgivable in a time when movies like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are going from strength to strength.
Perhaps it’s time the character had his claws sharpened and was given a new face? Or maybe Singer can take him back to his roots with next summer’s X-Men Days of Future Past (which reminds me, stay for the credits X-Men fans)?
Not a terrible movie but one that simply does a dis-service to one of comics’ greatest characters.