The Wolverine
dir James Mangold
scr Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
prd Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner
with Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Ken Yamamura, Garret T Sato, Nobuaki Kakuda
release UK 25.Jul.13, US 26.Jul.13
13/US Fox 2h06
The Wolverine
Power struggle: Khodchenkova and Jackman

sanada janssen lee
See also:
WOLVERINE (2009) Logan (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Wolverine The filmmakers admit they set out to fix the problems of 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this action adventure has an equally messy narrative, choppy editing and a rather uninteresting climactic battle. Fortunately, it's sharply well-shot and acted with a hint of depth by a solid cast.

In Alaska, Logan (Jackman) is taunted by lingerie-clad visions of deceased lover Jean Grey (Janssen) and his violent past. So he's reluctant when Yukio (Fukushima) turns up to escort him to Japan to see Yashida (Yamanouchi), whose life he saved when America A-bombed Nagasaki. Now Yashida wants to ease Logan's pain by relieving him of his healing immortality with the help of a creepy blonde doctor named Viper (Khodchenkova). Meanwhile, Yashida's son Shingen (Sanada) is annoyed that his daughter Mariko (Okamoto) stands to inherit his father's empire.

Poor Logan barely touches down in Tokyo before chaos erupts. Yashida's security set-up is woefully inept, allowing a mass invasion of tattooed mob goons and arrow-shooting ninjas. And when Viper steals Logan's healing powers, he's forced to engage all of these baddies like a mere mortal. Although at least he still has his retractable adamantium claws, which come in handy when you're locked in a battle atop a bullet train.

For most of the film, Logan is trying to protect Mariko from these attackers. Jackman and Okamoto play these scenes nicely, as Logan's eagerness to dive into any fray contrasts with Mariko's cool detachment. This makes their romantic spark feel faintly ridiculous, but both are loners who need some kindness. On the other hand, Fukushima adds some feisty energy, and Sanada provides gravitas as the brooding man caught between his father and his daughter, even if what he decides to do about it is rather inane.

And that's the problem: we are constantly waiting for shoes to drop that will make sense of the frenetic action scenes, but the story is little more than a series of unconnected set-pieces. So the big climactic showdown feels utterly nonsensical, as it involves a gleaming samurai robot we couldn't care less about. aside from looking shiny and cool. In the end the film's only worth seeing for Jackman's indefatigable charm and director Mangold's ability to add the illusion of coherence and depth.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 17.Jul.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall