Superhero movies have come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, even the X-Men franchise has recovered from a lacklustre end to the initial trilogy, and the subsequent not-so-great Origins: Wolverine. I thought First Class was a new era for the X-Men, but it turns out they weren't quite done with Hugh Jackman yet, as he returns in The Wolverine.
We once again follow Wolverine, who has cast aside his hero chaps and opted to grow a beard and commune with bears in the forest. But then a Japanese lady named Yukio tracks him down, on behalf of Yashida, a man Logan once saved, who is now facing death and wants to say goodbye. When Logan arrives in Tokyo, however, he is offered the option to become mortal, ending the pain he suffers from his eternal life. Before long though, he finds himself embroiled in warfare with the Yakuza, protecting Yashida's granddaughter and uncovering a sinister plot.
Yes, the movie is predominantly set in Tokyo, which of course means ninjas, ninjas everywhere. Even the people you'd least expect seem to be experts in martial arts, because hey, Japan. Still, it makes for some nice fight sequences, which really are needed, as the super-powered villain we're presented with is flat and boring, and even the precognitive Yukio takes on the role of a boring travel guide for the first half hour, explaining everything in unwanted detail.
You see, the plot is rather underdeveloped and drawn out, populated with characters who never really progress past their cookie cutter Japanese villain stages. As for the Wolverine, the plot does offer him a chance to reflect on an important life choice, especially when his powers are ripped from him without permission. Well, sort of, because he still manages to soldier on through the rest of the movie slicing people up. The premise had great potential for character development, but Jackman, while clearly comfortable and confident in his role, is just the same grunting, screaming guy he always was. Wolverine has certainly become more weary over the years, but I've grown tired of him too.
I think it's fair to say that I didn't particularly enjoy The Wolverine. It's watchable, yes, and pretty to look at, with some great action sequences. But a lacklustre plot filled with boring characters did little to rouse my interest. Probably the best thing about this movie is the mid-credits sequence at the end, but you'll have to make it through the rest first. If you like your average Blockbuster superhero movie, and indeed if you enjoyed The Last Stand and Origins, this is a safe bet. But with so many other greater movies coming out, I can't help but be disappointed.
My rating: 2/5