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Review: The Wolverine

Updated on July 28, 2013

X-Men Origins: Wolverine was definitely a love it or hate it affair with most people, and I was on the side of love. Sure it didn’t line up with the X-Men movie continuity well and didn’t use Deadpool properly, but it was a fun action romp that taken on its own I found quite enjoyable.

I expected to find the same joy with The Wolverine, but only found a fraction of it, though that may have been enough.

In The Wolverine, everyone’s favorite publicity figure is invited to Japan to visit an old friend he saved from an atom bomb in his war days and is now dying. Said old friend turns out to be a big part of the Yakuza, and Logan (later to be named Wolverine) ends up having to protect his friend’s granddaughter from assassination. Raising the stakes is the fact that Wolverine loses his healing power early on and that his enemies have a venomous villainess working with them.

The story is not The Wolverine’s strong suit. The characters are bland and underdeveloped and the plot is woefully predictable, with the “twist” at the end being so obvious there are probably going to be jokes and snide remarks made about it online. Even the premise seems more like a way to show off Japanese tourist attractions, with Logan visiting a love hotel, riding a bullet train, and running through a pachinko parlor. It doesn’t help that the actors don’t seem to be giving it their all.

"Just be as big a badass as you can, okay Hugh?" - James Mangold, presumably
"Just be as big a badass as you can, okay Hugh?" - James Mangold, presumably | Source

To the movie’s credit though, it at least does its best to tell its predictable story well. It’s well-shot, well-paced, and well-edited enough to not make it feel like the movie drags on in spite of its over two hour run time. It can at least hold your attention until you get to the action scenes, which are by far the best part of the movie.

If you wanted to see Wolverine fight people with his adamantium claws, then The Wolverine certainly has you covered. It’s a movie that showcases fight scenes done right, with a variety of scenarios, clever ideas, good camera work, and commendable choreography. One particularly impressive action scene has Wolverine fighting a hitman on a bullet train while the both of them stab their blades into the roof just to hang on, with the hitman using a knife and Logan using his claws. There’s also a big fight scene at the end of the movie in which Logan faces off against an obscure Marvel character making his movie debut. Keeping in mind the country they’re in, Marvel fans can probably take a stab at just which one that is.

And they aren't fake-looking CGI this time!
And they aren't fake-looking CGI this time! | Source

The Wolverine almost seems like a modern-day equivalent of an 80s action movie with the way its plot acts like more of a segue to the much better action scenes and the way Logan seems to love delivering pre-kill one-liners. Even the way the character onscreen feels more like the actor instead of the character is reminiscent of Stallone in Rambo and Schwarzenegger in Commando.

If that’s the kind of movie you can enjoy, or if you liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine, then you should get some enjoyment out of The Wolverine. If not, you’re better off skipping it. I give The Wolverine a 6.5 out of 10.

It’s better than Man of Steel, that’s for sure.


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