Another flawed and humdrum X-Men film. It’s the latest one to focus entirely on central character Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, from the franchise, following in the footsteps of the previous films and his own personal outing ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (09). The action takes place in a modern day time frame, after the events of ‘X-Men : The Last Stand’ (06), with Logan trying to come to terms with losing Jean Grey and, well, killing her. This essentially forms the very loose character justification for the film, but in reality it seems to simply serve as an excuse to feature the return of Famke Janssen in dream sequences sporting various nighties and proffering us a number of different views of her cleavage. The overall character arc from the beginning of the film through to the end is sufficiently insufficient to wonder if there was really any point to making it at all.
Not to mention one of the few things of any actual consequence that does happen is pretty annoying in terms of what it leaves the character with, especially if you really like Wolverine, as is the case for The Red Dragon. All of the secondary characters are two dimensional at best, as Logan gets caught up in an entirely dismal and predictable family feud in Japan, that sees him inevitably step up to save the damsel in distress – but will she help him forget Famke Janssen’s cleavage, and rediscover his joie de vivre? Well, not if baddie mutant Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) has anything to do with it – a fairly bad ass villain who is given no history or real flesh whatsoever, even Gargamel in ‘The Smurfs’ (11) has more onscreen presence, and it’s a complete waste of both the actress and the character. We also see our hero team up with Mariko (Tao Okamoto), whom we are supposed to believe is another mutant, but we actually doubt it – so poorly are her powers depicted to us. Indeed, one of the human characters seems a much better candidate for super hero abilities with his seeming inability to miss with his bow and arrow, much like Hawkeye in ‘Avengers Assemble’ (12).
Having said all that, I did enjoy seeing Wolverine back on the big screen, and Hugh Jackman vigorously embodies, with all his growling testosterone, the part he was born to play. All in all, it feels like a very, very standard comic book story, one that on the page probably wouldn’t achieve anything greater than wetting your appetite for more, but on the big screen the lackluster story can barely be concealed (ironically, the Japanese story arc in the comics is one of the best received ones). The visuals of Japan, whilst not spectacular, are certainly very beautiful, to Iranian cinematographer Amir Mokri and director James Mangold’s credit (who previously directed Jackman in ‘Kate & Leopold’, opposite Meg Ryan and Sabretooth actor Liev Schreiber, in 2001), and indeed showcasing Japan is probably the film’s biggest success. Mangold is capable of better than this, and bar a few moments of involving action, he and the cast deserved a much better script.
There is an after credits scene that you most definitely have to wait for (it plays after the initial credits, not after the full sequence so the wait is a short one), though I have very mixed feelings about what is revealed there too …..