Major spoilers ahead for The Wolverine in case you have not seen it yet.
The Wolverine is the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and it follows Logan as he protects the daughter of a man he saved in World War II as his healing powers begin to fade.
I know what you’re thinking. That is not a compelling plot, especially for a Wolverine movie. You are correct. The Wolverine may be a significant improvement over the travesty of Origins, which I reviewed last week, but it is not an impressive movie on any scale and you will not remember it anytime soon.
The Wolverine revolves around Logan’s act of saving a man named Yashida from the Nagasaki bomb in World War II. A mutant named Yukio, who can see how and when people she comes into contact with will die, finds Logan and takes him to Tokyo so he can say goodbye to Yashida before he dies of old age. Logan never questions who Yashida is or how he saved his life. He lost his memory in the 80s, and he saved Yashida in the 40s, so how can Logan remember him or what happened? Not once before he sees Yashida on his death bed does he show any confusion of why he was taken to Tokyo.
After Yashida “dies,” the rest of the movie hinges on Logan protecting Mariko, Yashida’s granddaughter, after his funeral is attacked and she is nearly kidnapped by the Yakuza. There is no reason to get invested in this conflict because Mariko is not an interesting character; her entire character is refusing to take over Yashida’s tech company, despite her being named as his heir in his will. Why should the audience care about her? What reason does she have to refuse her heritage? What is even her personality? If you’re going to have the main hero protect someone for the majority of a film, that person needs to be a three-dimensional character the audience can care about.
The villains-Yashida, Shingen (Mariko’s father), and Viper-are some of the blandest in the history of comic book movies. Yashida is not given much screen time to be given character development or even a sinister villain. His motive is to gain Logan’s healing factor, but…WHY? Is he selfish? Does he want to protect Mariko forever? Or does he just want to live longer? Everyone wants to live beyond their days, so why should Yashida’s goal be interesting? Shingen may be despicable in that he wants Mariko killed so he can inherit Yashida’s company and he hates mutants, but those are his only character traits. Again, not compelling in the slightest. Viper is nothing more than a Poison Ivy rip-off; she wears a green dress, she is attractive, and she has poisonous powers. But who is she? Why is she evil? What is her motive? She has no personality, and the actress who portrays her delivers a very below average performance. To have three villains in a single movie and none of them stand out to the audience is something you have to try to fail at.
While the action is edited well and the viewer can tell what is occurring on the screen, nothing about it is impressive. As uninspiring as the action in The Wolverine is, the fight atop a moving bullet train would stand out to most people as the most impactful. However, it is not a stand-out sequence at its core. There are no stakes; you know Logan is going to walk out of this fight because this scene is only midway through the film, and he is fighting normal thugs. The entire scene was shot on a stationary train on a green screen set. The physics are absurd and the fact that goons can hold onto a train moving at over 100 mph with nothing but knives and still fight a mutant with superhuman strength is over-the-top and goes outside all suspension of disbelief. It says something quite negative about a movie when the most visually-impressive sequence does not leave a lasting impression on the audience. The rest of the action outside of the climax in The Wolverine is comprised of generic sword fights with Yukio, the red-haired girl who takes Logan to Tokyo, Logan fighting thugs and ninjas who would pose no threat to him if he had have his accelerated healing. Even Logan fights the “Silver Samurai” in the end, and I put that in quotations because this is a complete butchering of the character just like Deadpool in Origins, it does not work because robotic villains are not compelling. The Samurai is only made worse when Yashida, who was believed to be dead, is shown to be in the suit in one of the least-surprising reveals in recent memory. The action in The Wolverine, like the movie itself, is an improvement over its predecessor, but nothing about it will leave an impression on the audience.
While The Wolverine is a significant improvement over Origins, it is not a remarkable movie by any stretch. The new characters are stale, the action is bland, and it is a largely forgettable movie.
The Wolverine gets a D+
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Stay updated for my review of Logan, coming Friday night!