The Wolverine is an X-Men movie that focuses on our favorite claw-wielding hero. But The Wolverine can’t get out of its own way to be a good action movie.
There can’t be enough movies starring Wolverine. Partly because the character is terribly entertaining, with his smart-ass comments and his supreme ability to kick ass. Partly because Hugh Jackman embodies Wolverine so well, with subtle acting and genius comic timing.
The Wolverine takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand. Logan is struggling with what went down with the love of his life, Jean Grey, at the end of that movie. He is summoned by a super-cute mini-samurai, played with spunk by Rila Fukushima, to say good-bye to an old Japanese man he once saved during the war. Thus begins Logan’s adventures in Japan.
I didn’t have high expectations for The Wolverine. I was looking for lots of action, some trash talk and some shirtless Hugh Jackman. I didn’t get enough of any of those things.
First, the fun of a superhero movie is that the superhero is better than everyone else. They’re a can of whoop-ass walking around waiting for someone to pop them open. But for most of The Wolverine, he’s down for the count, limping and bleeding like the rest of us mortals. Not fun.
See also: Wish List for X-Men: Days of Future Past
Second, the love interest is pointless. There’s no clear reason Logan would be interested in this youngster– played by Tao Okamoto, a model who plays it like a model–other than her affinity for knives. I buy that he wants to protect her; I don’t buy his interest in her romantically. The story was so limp, I could feel the writers and producers breaking the story, making the decision to have a love interest solely because it’s part of the formula. So that whole plotline just takes away from time that should be spent kicking some ass, or at least roaming the beautiful countryside of Japan.
The movie would have been much more entertaining if Logan and the mini-samurai, Yukio, had spent more time together on screen. Those two had a fizzy chemistry as brothers-in-arms, so to speak.
Third, although Viper was a terribly interesting mutant and seemingly invincible foe in theory, her part also felt like the producers wanted to add some mutant to the formula, threw in some sex appeal in the form of Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova, and gave her little to do other than look gorgeous strutting around in tight-fighting costumes. Her reason for being part of this movie was unconvincing. Again, all of her screen time could have been time spent watching Logan tear up the joint.
However, The Wolverine did manage to do some things successfully. The movie successfully walked Logan through his journey from self-banishment from the world to putting on his big-boy pants and getting back to protecting the world. Hugh Jackman, with his usual top-notch performance, had a lot to do with why that story worked. And as I mentioned above, the addition of Yukio, also a mutant, was well-done. I hope we see more of Logan’s self-appointed “bodyguard” in future X-Men movies. And although the story is thin in parts, I can’t help but feel the creative team at least tried really hard to make a coherent, multi-layered movie. The Wolverine was still better than Man of Steel.