It’s hard to find what to say about The Wolverine, having planned an easy Friday night with pizza and a movie I picked up The Wolverine on DVD and expected to be in for some standard blockbuster popcorn fare for my evening. How wrong I was.
Please note there will be some key plot spoilers ahead.
The Wolverine kicks off in classic style, set after the events of the fairly weak last key instalment in the X-men franchise X-Men: The Last Stand we meet Logan cut off from society and living a solemn life, vowing to himself never to hurt or endanger the one’s he loves or the people around him again. Hidden out in the wilds living away from man, his only friend a bear. With whom he appears to communicate via the use of claw scratches on trees. Occasionally he enters the local town for supplies and this is where our next plot device comes in. The typical ‘hunter’ type men are seen preparing supplies and talking big game.
The pace immediately picks up to a late night in the woods where screams of people and animals are heard. Of course the obvious happens, one of the hunters has gone mad (for some reason, explained awkwardly to do with some poison) killed his fellow hunters and shot Logan’s bear friend with a poisoned arrow. Cut forward and our hunter is in the local bar claiming the bear slaughtered them all and he survived. Logan enters, a confrontation ensues and Logan takes a step against his vow, however we’re abruptly interrupted by the entrance of one of the plots key character’s a girl with mutant abilities that foresee the future. She breaks up the fight and through some persuasion convinces Logan to come with her to Japan.
For me, this exceptionally short introduction felt very classic Wolverine. I’d certainly of liked to see it more fleshed out and really give some more potency to why Logan is so removed from society, even the connection with the bear that causes him to get so angry and head to the bar isn’t truly fleshed out. A real lack of character development is present here and it’s a shame as not only would this have seeded a real emotional connection to Logan and his troubles but it’d have also increased what is potentially the most interesting part of the movie.
The action truly kicks off when the film moves to Japan, the core location for the remaining entirety. The locales are beautiful and it’s shot exceptionally well highlighting both the unique and marvellous architecture and lighting of Japan’s cities but furthermore it’s diverse and awe inspiring natural fauna and majestic countryside. This environment has so much to give, yet unfortunately the plot whilst showing it fails to match it’s beauty.
From this point on the film really feels like a paint by numbers action romp, there’s your standard obvious villains and a surprise ‘twist’ villain that you’ll most likely have spotted in the first ten minutes of Logan being in Japan. It’s all very formulaic and lacks spark, plot wise it’s far from the blockbuster romp I was hoping for. Mix in an interspersed romance development that makes very little sense beyond a protector and protectee relationship given Logan’s pining for a lost love and his deep set anxiety about endangering those he cares about. It feels completely and wholly at odds with the character as presented in the movie.
The action however for the most part was exceptionally well choreographed and looked excellent. As the movie progresses Logan loses his ability to heal and is pushed to his limits through an extended action sequence that lasts close to 15 minutes. After being shot Logan realises he isn’t healing properly and his wrecklessness quickly lessens, as he takes more hits you see a change in the character. The realisation that he’s no longer indestructible quickly takes affect and his tactics change. This was a very refreshing development to the character and interesting to see how his valiance continues to remain even with these new frailties.
Whilst things start to make a positive development in the middle, the film once more loses it’s way in the final act. Some strange plot devices, a dissapointing reveal to the causes of Logan’s loss of abilities and that aforementioned ‘surprise’ villain twist culminate into a fight with a giant adamantium robot.
Yeah, you read it right. Giant Adamantium Robot. Any sense of realism drains away and the film enters some odd territory that seems at odds with the all though not well developed but interesting plot surrounding Logan’s weaknesses both physical and mental. A real shame.
If you see this on TV in a few years i’d recommend a watch just for some of the highlights i’ve mentioned and as an X-Men fan it’s great to see this additional characterisation of a series stalwart, otherwise the film is a dissapointment and I honestly wouldn’t reccommend purchasing it.
Plot Highlight: Logan’s internal conflict with who he is and the life he has lead, the realisation he faces of this both physically and mentally through out show an excellent new dimension to the character.
Action Highlight: As Logan is at his weakest he’s ambushed on a bullet train that leads to a visually excellent and exciting battle both in and on the train.
Ben Corbett-Mills / @benleopards