Settling into my seat at the cinema, I am prepared to be wowed by 120 minutes of brawn, a wee bit of brain, and a super adrenaline charged, action packed movie. I am, after all, here to watch, The Wolverine.
The show opens with an action sequence in Nagasaki.. its landscape is about to change forever more – in the first 3 minutes it is obliterated in a mushroom cloud, courtesy of a nuclear bomb, signaling the end of World War II.
In the center of it all is Hugh Jackman’s Logan, aka The Wolverine, chained up in a Prisoner of War camp. As the place is about to go up in ashes, most of the Japanese officers commit hara-kiri while one officer decides to run for cover instead. He is saved by Logan who pulls him into the shelter and keeps him safe from the first waves of radiation and the bomb.
After that grand opening, it is all downhill from there on. Back in the US of A, Logan lives the life of a tramp, has only a grizzly bear for a friend, and is plagued by visions of his lost love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and how he had to put an end to her life in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). In a bar, he is found by the slinky Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a flame-haired employee of the man he saved in World War II.
She then persuades Logan to go to Japan, where he becomes embroiled in a convoluted plot involving the yakuza, his old Japanese friend, and the new love of his life, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) who, in a nice twist, sees Logan and his claws as something to love, not fear.
Sadly and rather pathetically, though Japan is a cool location to film a movie, the emphasis on Japanese culture feels rather skin-deep, and full of clichés. There is a funny scene with an awkward visit to a love hotel with Mariko but these funny bits are few and far between.
And without giving too much away, they didn’t really need to come up for Mariko – an ailing grandfather, an evil father, a playboy fiancé, an ex-ninja lover and finally The Wolverine as protector and current lover. It is exhausting just writing about it, so imagine watching the movie. We did however like Svetlana Khodchenkova, who shows up as the venomous Viper, and found her role as the evil mutant pretty convincing (well she didn’t have much acting to botch up really).
Later, the entire running around the south of Japan with Logan & Mariko in tow, was just plain daft, as Logan bloodlessly slices his way through armies of yakuza and ninjas, only to return for a face off with his old “friend”. Well, why didn’t they just meet and have the face off, 30 minutes into the show then? It’s a pointless running around for 120 minutes to reach the same conclusion.
It’s regrettable, then, that in a film concerned with immortality, this plot will not lasts forever. The final showdown, that is overlong, overserious, and overplotted is deeply unsatisfying, with over the top reveals, that don’t make sense. I did say I wanted a lot of brawn and perhaps a little brain. I guess I got what I wished for in The Wolverine 2013.
All in all, The Wolverine is still worth checking out at cinemas, but only if you’re a fan of the character and the other X-Men movies. If you enjoy an action movie with a good script then this Marvel movie might irritate you. The Wolverine will be followed by an X-Men sequel next summer and a Fantastic Four reboot in 2015.
The Wolverine will be clawing out of Malaysian big screens on the 25th of July 2013