It's only been four years since 2009's X-men Origins: Wolverine, and it's hard to see how this film does anything to correct that film's messy plot, harsh editing and uninteresting action. This one has a much more interesting Japanese setting and some great characters, but its focus on action over depth leaves it feeling gratuitous and empty. We may be entertained by the whizzy chaos of it all, but we never feel much suspense.
It begins in Alaska, where Logan (Jackman) is still licking his wounds after the death of his lover Jean Grey (Janssen), who appears regularly to him in sexy, soft-focus dreams. Then a young woman (Fukushima) turns up, insisting that he return to Japan to see Yashida (Yamanouchi), whose life Logan saved in the A-bombing of Nagasaki. But in Tokyo, Logan finds that the near-dead Yashida wants to relieve him of his healing immortality with the help of a sinister blonde doctor named Viper (Khodchenkova). Meanwhile, Yashida's son Shingen (Sanada) is miffed that his daughter Mariko (Okamoto) is the heir to his father's fortune. And there are armies of tattooed goons and arrow-shooting ninjas chasing Logan wherever he goes.
The film has a brisk pace, barely pausing to regain its breath before plunging into another massive action set-piece. But none of these sequences stands up to even the slightest scrutiny: laws of logic and physics are abandoned as the hugely muscled Logan battles everything in sight. Even after Viper steals his powers, he still has those retractable adamantium claws, which come in handy when you're fighting tenacious thugs on top of a speeding bullet train.
Director Mangold puts the Japanese settings to use very nicely, and the film is packed with clever samurai touches that add the illusion of depth. Jackman adds to this as well, with a darkly shadowed performance as a tormented man who might as well dive headlong into whatever mayhem is breaking out. Other characters add spark or gravitas as needed, but this movie is all about Jackman, really. So even relieving him of his ability to heal doesn't make us worry that anything serious will happen to him, especially when the final battle is against a rather boring shiny metal robot. It's fun while it lasts, but should have been so much more than that.
Run time: 126 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th July 2013
Box Office USA: $132.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $415.4M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Ingenious Media, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Donners' Company, Marvel Entertainment, Bad Hat Harry Productions, Big Screen Productions, TSG Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 149 Rotten: 67
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: James Mangold
Producer: Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner
Starring: Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine, Tao Okamoto as Mariko, Rila Fukushima as Yukio, Hiroyuki Sanada as Shingen, Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper, Brian Tee as Noburo Mori, Hal Yamanouchi as Yashida, Will Yun Lee as Harada, Ken Yamamura as Young Yashida, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, Shinji Ikefuji as Pock-Face, Qyoko Kudo as Aya, Conrad Coleby as Red Beard, Taris Tyler as Bar Man (Red Beard's Friend), Sarah Naylor-Liddell as Yukon Bar Patron, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier
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