RELEASED: July 26th 2013
DIRECTED BY: James Mangold
WRITTEN BY: Mark Bomback & Scott Frank
PRODUCED BY: Lauren Shuler Donner & Hutch Parker
MUSIC BY: Marco Beltrami
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Hiroyuki Sanada, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Haruhiko Yamanouchi & Famke Janssen
In a radical departure from X-Men Origins, Logan returns in The Wolverine, plucking us out of the past escapades of First Class and returning us to the present timeline.
The film sees Logan, now a destitute hermit, struggling to deal with the deaths of Jean Grey and everyone else he loves. However, he is pulled out of his wallowing by a young woman called Yukio, who summons him to Japan to say his goodbyes to Yashida, a Japanese soldier he saved in World War II. However, Logan soon becomes embroiled in a plot involving the future of Yashida’s family, as his powers mysteriously start to fail him.
It’s clear when watching this film and those around it, that Fox were desperately trying to wipe Origins out of audiences minds. As far as I can tell, there’s only one reference to that film in this one, and it’s so subtle that you could miss it if you weren’t paying attention. In spite of that, however, it’s one of the few X-Men films post Last Stand that actually adheres to continuity. The only thing that comes close to breaking it is the mid-credits scene, but that can be explained away by paying close attention the film it references (again, The Last Stand).
However, while it does adhere to continuity, it’s clear that this film is trying to tell a tale that is mostly self-contained. It’s clearly linked to the other X-Men films, with the finale of The Last Stand being one of the driving forces in Logan’s characterisation, but otherwise, the hero is taken out of his element and away from the majority of facets of your standard X-Men film.
For one, there’s only three mutants in the whole movie; something that beggars belief after the mutant-heavy romps that were The Last Stand, Origins and First Class. Likewise, the majority of the film takes place in Japan, a first for these films, and under the direction of James Mangold, the movie revels in being able to truly place Logan in a fish out of water situation, while also being able to toy with the gorgeous imagery and cultural icons that come with Japan-set movie.
It’s this direction, along with Hugh Jackman’s always entertaining performance as Logan, that really carries this film. It’s aided by some of the best action seen in an X-Men movie outside of X2 and really is the Wolverine film that we deserved in place of Origins.
However, that’s not to say it’s perfect. While the film is filled with a likeable and diverse cast, the script doesn’t really feel like it’s been written to encapsulate the range of actors that the film possesses, and as a result, some of the lines of dialogue can feel inauthentic when being uttered by the Japanese characters. However, while they mostly overcome this and present likeable and interesting additions to Wolverine’s world, Khodchenkova’s character ‘Viper’ feels very insencere and barely even one-note. Plus, her being a mutant has very little baring on the story, and seems like it’s only included for the third act, in which the film once again ‘Deadpools it’.
Now, when I say they ‘Deadpool it’, I’m not referencing the generally well-regarded Deadpool movies, so much as I am the whole Deadpool sequence from the end of Origins. That movie wasn’t great anyway, but the bizarre choices they went with when it came to Deadpool’s character, where they choose a ridiculous over-the-top CGI final battle over honouring Deadpool’s actual character, leak through somewhat here. For the majority of its runtime, the movie is a gritty, down-to-Earth action flick, and in the final act Logan has to fight a giant robot while Yukio faces off again Viper and her snake-lady powers. It doesn’t break the movie, but it doesn’t entirely fit, either. And I really can’t understand why all Wolverine movies feel the need to ‘Deadpool it’.
But whatever, the movie, as a whole, is still enjoyable and worth watching, and probably lands in the upper half of my ranking of the X-Men films.
So, all-in-all, I give The Wolverine: