The Wolverine (2013)
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
Plot: Summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, Wolverine becomes embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.
Genre: Action / Fantasy
Rating: PG13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language/
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“I can make you mortal.”
No one has yet to make a great Wolverine movie. This could have been it if the original director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, 2000; Black Swan, 2010) hadn't drop out of the project. Aronofsky would have been perfect in re-visioning the iconic character after a mostly uninspiring reboot by Gavin Hood for X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
In this latest standalone entry, Hugh Jackman reprises the role of Logan/Wolverine as he journeys to Japan to bid farewell to an old, dying friend he saved when the atomic bomb hit Nagasaki in 1945. He then becomes embroiled in a mob conspiracy and struggles to fight as his enemies weaken his healing power and strength.
Directed by James Mangold, a versatile filmmaker who has made films in different genres such as the Western in 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and the music biographical drama Walk the Line (2005), The Wolverine is largely adequately made, though it is not particularly interesting to watch.
There is one thrilling action sequence set in the midst of a funeral that is well shot and edited to a percussive score by Marco Beltrami, creating suspense in what had been a slow start to the film. A battle between Wolverine and some brave but silly Yakuza gangsters on the roof of a speeding bullet train also serves as one of the highlights of an otherwise disappointing film that feels generally poorly paced.
Jackman's performance is nothing to shout about, though he does his job with remarkable consistency over the last decade in a role that has defined him as an A-list star. He is flanked by two Japanese actresses, one a competent martial artist, the other a demure love interest.
The problem with the Wolverine standalone features thus far lies in its plotting and character development. I don't quite feel that Jackman's character has grown in significant ways, neither do I find the storytelling captivating enough to sustain the whole of two hours.
In short, I feel that the screen portrayal of the mythology of Wolverine does not quite fascinate as much as what has been envisioned for, say, Batman or Superman. At least we won’t have to wait long for X-Men: Days of Future Past to satisfy our craving for mutant superheroes. It’s only next summer.
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