Director: James Mangold
Writer: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
Based on: Roy Thomas‘, Len Wein‘s and John Romita Sr.‘s character
Sequel to: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (kinda, though more like X-Men: The Last Stand)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee, Ken Yamamura, Famke Janssen
Since Jean’s (Famke Janssen) death, Logan (Hugh Jackman) has given up on being the Wolverine and lives a hermit’s existence. But he is tracked down by Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who works for the rich business man Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi). Yashida is dying and he would like to see Logan again who saved his life during WW2. Grudgingly, Logan flies to Tokyo, only to discover that things aren’t quite as clear cut. While he tries to figure everything out, protecting Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) becomes his priority.
The Wolverine is made of dumb. Did I expect it to be a good move? No. But I did think that somebody somewhere would have thought about the script and/or plot for more than five seconds. Apparently not.
The best decision this film made is that it pretty much ignores X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The other good decision the film made is that Hugh Jackman is shirtless a lot. And that’s basically it. Everywhere else the movie fails on a spectacular scale.
The script is so dumb it hurts. Yashida wants Logan’s healing powers. For that he has to drill into his claws to sap it from them (HOW DOES HE KNOW?). But, wait a minute, Logan’s a mutant. Meaning his healing power is in his genes, his biologic make-up. It’s not actually a power that can be sucked from him. Why didn’t Yashida just ask Logan for a bone marrow/blood donation?
Mariko is on the run. Nobody should find her. So where does she run to? The town she grew up in and where everybody knows her by name. And stays in her house.
Mariko sleeps with Logan even though she’s engaged. Which is romantic. But Mariko’s fiancé fooling around with other women is disgusting and a crime he deserves being thrown off a roof for.
Mariko attempts suicide, but Logan keeps her from jumping once, so the matter is obviously done for her.
Mariko is great with knives and she’s obviously decent at martial arts, but she doesn’t use any of it, instead she waits for Logan to show up.
And then the entire thing takes a turn from dumb to creepy. Logan fantasizes of a soft-spoken, demure, negligéd Jean (which in itself is already really weird since it seemed to me that Logan always appreciated her strength) who he keeps killing – he wakes up with his claws already buried in her. The next time he puts his claws into anything, it’s a bear that he mercy kills, which is already a very creepy parallel. But then the movie goes this step farther and when Logan next wakes to a woman (in real life), it’s next to Mariko. He has his claws out, but not inside her, thankfully. And Mariko, starts stroking the claws (fetish much?) and talking softly and calming him down. And that basically does the trick. The next times, Jean appears to him, he can deal with her, he can excuse his actions (“it had to be done because Jean was out of control”) and he can close the chapter. And that is just a disgusting morale. [Here’s another take on this.]
But even disregarding this, there is nothing that really works in this film. The most interesting characters – Yukio and Harada (Will Yun Lee) – are sidelined, their backstory handwaved away. (There is generally a lot of handwaving.) It never actually becomes clear why Logan would care so much. Or what the Viper is actually doing there.
And taking a step away from the content, the action scenes are not that great, either. Some of them are pretty cool, especially when they involve, again, Yukio and Harada. But mostly the fall flat. The movie is way too long. And it’s just altogether disappointing – though I did like the after credits scene.
Summarizing: better not.