Over the weekend I had the opportunity to review the latest installment in the X-Men franchise: The Wolverine. And though I always love when a great comic book character is brought to life on the big screen, I found this movie to be uneven and lack the punch necessary for such a seminal character. The story takes place sometime after X-Men: The Last Stand, where Logan has seemingly left the X-Men and retreated to the mountains. He’s become more feral and is haunted by the death of Jean Grey. A series of events leads him back to civilization, a violent proposition as ever, where a mysterious woman from Japan means to reacquaint him with his past. Unfortunately this is where we encounter the first major flaw; if you watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine (spoiler alert), you know that at the end he gets shot and loses all memory of who he is. However, when he meets the man that has summoned him, he has full recognition of their past. While I’m not a huge stickler to comic book movie doctrine, his memory loss was a significant outcome of the Origins movie. They should have addressed this better or used it as a ploy to help Logan piece together pieces of his past instead of just dismissing any relation to the previous movie. Still, the initial plot line is intriguing: a chance for an honorable death for someone who seemingly cannot be killed. It is this life or death dilemma (through the guise of Jean Grey) that Logan wrestles with throughout the movie. Had they stuck to that script this movie could have really flourished but this being a Wolverine movie you know a high body count was necessary. And that is the problem. Instead of following Logan on an introspective search for a deeper meaning of his gifts/curse, that leads him down the Samurai path and the inevitable return to the X-Men, they send him on an all out killing spree where neither Yakuzu henchmen, bullet trains, or a never ending parade of ninjas can stop him. The killing seems overly gratuitous, bordering on cartoonish. Note to the director, it is never…ever a good idea to put ninjas on motorcycles (insert ninjas on ninjas joke here). I could be wrong but I never got the sense that Wolverine was strictly out to kill; he just happened to be exceeding good at it. Here it seems that it’s the only thing he knows how to do. Through this lens he has more in common with the Hulk’s single mindedness ‘smash’ mantra than being a leader of the X-Men. The movie had the opportunity to re-establish Wolverine with the seriousness they’ve afforded Magneto and Professor X; instead they used it to perpetuate the comic shtick and one dimensional character we first saw in Origins. If you liked the original you’ll like this movie, as it is an upgrade. If you’re more of a fan of First Class or the first two X-men movies you’ll find this experience underwhelming.
The film is available now on Digital HD and will be out on Blu-ray and DVD on December 3 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.