Review: The Wolverine / Cert: 12A / Director: James Mangold / Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback, Scott Frank / Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Famke Janssen / Release Date: July 25th
Wolverine goes Japanese and the story goes to pot in this sprawling and overlong blockbuster, which attempts to reveal the man behind the Brillo Pad sideboards but actually ends up exposing the shortcomings in James Mangold's helmsmanship. Thank Buddha for the kickass redhead!
We meet Wolverine deep in a hole near Nagasaki in 1945 as chaos erupts around him. A soldier named Yashida attempts to release Wolverine from his prison and ends up being saved from the atomic explosion by him. Fast forward to the present day and we meet the lonesome Logan (Jackman) living a solitary life in the woods, only going to town to pick up supplies and drown his sorrows. His anger at the world around him and the curse of his immortality doesn’t allow him to engage with other people. That is, until a young lady named Yukio (Fukushima) turns up to request he accompany her to Japan to visit Yashida on his death bed.
The first thirty minutes of The Wolverine set up the story extremely well, weaving in characters, explosive setpieces and well-choreographed fight sequences. Wolverine gets time to show off his skills and go berserk but is robbed of his healing powers for a lot of the film and chooses to hibernate, learn about himself and fall in love with Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko. Leading on from X-Men: The Last Stand, Jean Grey (Janssen) is dead and appears as a ghost who haunts and guides Logan on his path to self-discovery. His grief at Grey’s death is explored well through his nightmares.
There’s lots of fun to be had with a train-top fight, allowing Wolverine to show off those adamantium claws, and snow-set Ninja battles, but the final sequence feels messy. Viper (Khodchenkova) only appears briefly, and both her powers (the ability to suppress another mutant's powers) and her backstory are sadly undercooked. This disappointing villain is thankfully outshone by the most excellent Yukio , an ally to Logan. Her bright red hair and super samurai skills are quite something to behold, and her appearance in a small town bar is one of the best scenes in the film. Hugh Jackman is once again perfect in the role of Wolverine, ably shifting between troubled introspection and astonishing physical prowess.
There’s much to like, but unfortunately The Wolverine feels unbalanced and far too lengthy, with the middle section especially dragging. When the mid-credits sting (stay in your seat) is the real highlight of a film there’s something amiss.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10