Logan (Hugh Jackman) is summoned to Japan by a man whose life he saved many years before. While there, he becomes embroiled in a family conflict that forces him to confront his past.
We are all agreed that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was not the best big screen outing for the mutant hero; it currently sits at 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the question that has been on many fans minds is, will The Wolverine be any better?
Loosely based on the graphic novels, The Wolverine incorporates Logan’s search for meaning after the death of Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand. Hugh Jackman reprises the role that he is arguably most famous for, and although he does what he can with the character, a lot of the Wolverine’s trademarks are missing. There are very few one liners, little sarcasm and certainly the gruff loner mutant has suffered through his time in isolation. Jackman came to The Wolverine fresh from Les Misérables, and it is clear that in certain scenes he has not quite bulked up yet, and he seems to have brought some of the melancholy from Jean Valjean to Logan, not that the characters are dissimilar, but Logan could have done with being a little more gruff and a little less mournful.
Rila Fukushima obviously has fun as the precog mutant Yukio, and gets to kick rather a lot of bad guy ass. Tao Okamoto looks great as Mariko, but she has little to do other than be a damsel in distress and punch people a couple of times. Both women get their moments to shine, but their characters seem to have been written as something for Logan to fight for, rather than well-rounded characters in themselves. That said, however, it is perhaps Svetlana Khodchenkova as The Viper who comes off the worst. There is very little character development here, if any at all, and while she looks good, it seems that the Viper was simply brought into the story to distract from the real villain that Logan must fight. No spoilers though!
The script for the film is filled with some of the most trite and cliché dialogue that has been heard on screen since, well, Pacific Rim. While this worked in del Toro’s film, there is tons of room in The Wolverine for a smart script, but it is sadly lacking. As well as this, the pacing of the film is a mess, the story becomes rather predictable and the set pieces, while interesting, seem to go on for just a little too long.
Director James Mangold has had a varied career, with films such as Walk the Line, Girl, Interrupted and Kate & Leopold under his belt, but with The Wolverine it seems that he is a hack for hire, as he brings very little flair or originality to the screen. Having worked with Jackman in the past should have been something that translated on to the screen but – and perhaps this is because the character is very much alone for the film – it seems as though Jackman is isolated as an actor, as well as a character.
In all, The Wolverine is not the out and out mess that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was, but there is very little original or exciting here. We get to see a rather boring story from the Wolverine canon and, even though some of the set pieces are fun and this is obviously ramping up to the gang getting back together (keep an eye out for a credits scene), this big screen outing for one of the most beloved X-Men feels thin, uninspired and uninspiring.