The Wolverine (2 stars)

James Mangold brings a leaden touch to this tedious franchise instalment starring Hugh Jackman

The Wolverine

The popularity of Marvel’s Wolverine character is surprising in the light of the rather hairy quality of his films. Without a Joss Whedon or a Shane Black to shape his manly world of robotic exoskeletons, denim jackets and sideburns, James Mangold is left to bring much the same leaden touch that Gavin Hood brought to X Men Origins: Wolverine.

The final scenes of his origin story depicted Logan aka The Wolverine arriving in Japan, a scene ignored by the mangled chronology of Mangold’s film, which instead offers up a lengthy preamble in which Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) lounges around a North American forest like a living cigarette commercial. He displays his affinity with nature by caring for and then revenging an obviously computer-generated bear that has been wounded by thoughtless hunters.

His ecological credentials firmly established, Wolverine accept a free trip to Tokyo, offered by Yashida (Ken Yamamura, then Hal Yamanouchi), a Japanese soldier that Wolverine rescued from an atomic bomb by lying on top of him in a rather distasteful prologue. On his death-bed, Yashida asks Wolverine to protect his daughter Yukio (Rila Fukushima), and when assassins disrupt her father’s funeral, Wolverine finds himself plunged into a world of Yakuza in-fighting.

The synopsis promises to put the Wolverine, a blue-collar superhero, into an appropriately realistic criminal environment, but in practice it all adds up to Wolverine fighting the usual big robot in a volcano-sized laboratory. There’s not much of Japanese culture, just a whole lot of tedious soul-searching as Wolverine goes through the familiar super-hero routine of losing then getting back his powers. Some macho gags, like one when Wolverine unwittingly drops an assailant into a swimming pool, are straight lifts from 70s Dirty Harry-type action tropes. A brief but dynamic bullet-train sequence apart, The Wolverine is remarkable only for making its ponderous origins story look lively in comparison.

The Wolverine: Official Trailer (2013)

The Wolverine

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 126 min
  • Directed by: James Mangold
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee
  • UK release: 25 July 2013

This sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine sees the eponymous hero travel to Japan where he takes training from a samurai warrior.


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