Thursday, March 2, 2017


The Wolverine is the second attempt at an X-Men spinoff film. We, once again, feature Wolverine as our main character who is, once again, played by Hugh Jackman. James Mangold took over the directorial duties for the film which loosely follows a famous Wolverine comic storyline where he goes to Japan after being called there to say goodbye to an old Japanese man whose life Wolverine saved in World War II. The film stars Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, and Hal Yamanouchi alongside Jackman.

This film is a substantial improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The problem with saying that is that X-Men Origins: Wolverine set an extremely low bar for quality on a Wolverine movie. I liked that this movie had a very particular style to it and stuck to it. This felt very different from the X-Men movies in a good way and that all came from the directorial vision Mangold brought to the project.

On top of a refreshing style, I thought Jackman once again brought a lot to the role. He really puts everything he has into playing a good Wolverine and does so in this film. In this film I thought he really elevated his performance well beyond his last outing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Maybe that was due to the quality of the underlying material, but in any case there is a great deal more emotional depth and intrigue in his performance here.

The final strengths I want to mention are the central conceit of the story and the quality of the action. Much like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the team at Fox found an interesting nugget to build a quality Wolverine story around. They certainly failed in the case of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I think they failed here as well (to a much lesser extent), but the basic ideas they keep developing are quite interesting conceptually. The action in this film is also really great. This is the first time we get the chance to see Wolverine fight believably since X2: X-Men United and he really goes all out in this film. It was great to see that put to screen and I’m thankful this is part of the X-verse for that reason alone.

Evidently there is a lot of positive stuff in this film. I think that the film as a whole fails, however, because of extremely weak supporting performances, significant set pieces that took me entirely out of the film, and the failure to stitch together all of the good elements to make them coalesce and define the film.

The first major negative, as mentioned, were the supporting performances. Seriously, these were awful with almost no redeeming qualities. Tao Okamoto and the limited role by Famke Jansen are ok. But really, everyone else is awful. Fukushima made me really question whether she had any acting talent at all (and but for knowing her work on Arrow I wouldn’t be convinced she doesn’t) and don’t even get me started on Svetlana Khodchenkova as the Viper. Good god she was terrible. Hugh Jackman is a great actor and is great as Wolverine but he can’t do it when surrounded by almost exclusively garbage performances like he is here.

On top of bad performances, the film has some ridiculous set pieces that rip you away from the movie you want to be watching. Seeing Wolverine fight a bunch of ninjas is awesome. That’s what everyone wants to see. They don’t want to see him jumping on and clawing the top of a bullet train as he is pursued by one guy with a terrible green screen environment. It just doesn’t work. Further, the final act of this film is so off the wall that it really doesn’t work. For starters, it is incredibly predictable in the worst of ways. Then, it takes what was a slightly more grounded Wolverine film and presents an ending so discordant with the rest of the film that even the most ardent supporters of this movie will say that the ending was a letdown.

Finally, this film doesn’t seem to know what to do with all of the good elements and completely failed to stitch them together in a good film. Sure it’s got a great lead performance, a fresh and cool style, some awesome action, and a great core concept but none of that works if they’re not being used together to produce a great film and they weren’t here. Everything just felt like it was kind of there “just because.” It didn’t feel well organized or clearly targeted at a consistent goal which made it incredibly frustrating for me to watch because I think this could have been a good film.

Unfortunately, I think this was a fumble on Fox’s part as they once again found an interesting story about Wolverine and managed to make a poor movie out of it. There are redeeming elements of this film without question, but I think that the problems are too vast to ignore.

Ryan’s Score: 5/10

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