The Wolverine (2013)

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Man, Wolverine is a boring character. Never has that been made more apparent than in “The Wolverine.” Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine with the personality of a waffle, and rather than playing the character as a man in his element, like in the comics, Wolverine is a fish out of water. He can’t speak Japanese, nor can he understand it. So he needs a Japanese character to hover around him lest he become trapped in a hilarious misunderstanding. Like the scene where he’s being scrubbed by a group of bath women.

“The Wolverine” doesn’t do much to make Wolverine in to an action hero worthy of his own movie series. Again, Wolverine is just boring, and his character manages to do nothing but scowl, grimace, and growl, every single chance he gets. It’s embarrassing when the supporting characters are much more entertaining in a movie about a mutant with metal claws. The comics played Wolverine as a man who could adapt to the Asian culture well, but here he’s just another American moron who seems to approach Asian culture with an undertone of mockery. Director James Mangold plays the character much too seriously, to the point where the film is dull. Granted, I didn’t like the camp from “Origins,” but the writers seem to be anxious to depict Wolverine as some complex individual.

In reality he’s nothing but a one note anti-hero and walking deus ex machina, whose own personality is barely fleshed out. In fact, the narrative only picks up in the finale, and begins on a high note. After “The Last Stand,” Logan is now a mutant Grizzly Addams living in a cave who relies on bare essentials. After Brett Ratner’s monstrosity, who can blame him? He’s plagued by really annoying visions of Jean Grey, who does nothing but mock him, antagonize him, and conveniently help him fight his foes. It’s always interesting how Logan’s flashbacks connect to his current dilemmas. I wonder if Logan has ever fought Juggernaut, and mid-way had a flashback about a bad bout of diarrhea. After a scuffle in a bar, Logan is confronted by a mysterious Asian woman named Yukio who beckons him to Japan to say goodbye to an old friend he met during a war.

For some reason Wolverine was kept in an internment camp (I thought he had healing abilities and claws? How was he kept there?) and made friends with a Japanese guard he helped keep alive after a massive explosion. Logan discovers the soldier is now a head of a massive corporation named Yashida, and wants Logan’s healing abilities to cheat death. After a conspiracy to ensure the old man’s death, Wolverine is embroiled in a massive plot to murder the man’s grand daughter Mariko. To make matters worse, Logan is rendered vulnerable thanks to a mutant named Viper, who suppresses his abilities. Really, Logan oddly feels tacked on to a premise that’s set in Japan and around a large back story that has little to nothing to do with Wolverine. Logan becomes nothing but a plot device in his own movie, while much more interesting and entertaining characters do battle with one another, in an effort to unveil the mystery of the Yashida family, and a clan of dark ninjas.

That said the only entertaining performances are from the cast of Asian actors, all of whom are infinitely more exciting than Wolverine. Rila Fukushima is a scene stealer as the red haired warrior Yukio, who forms a sisterly bond with Logan. Will Yun Lee is also rather fantastic as the ninja Kenuichio, the Yashida’s bodyguard torn between his loyalties to the Yashida’s and Mariko. Their plights and conflicts are so much more exciting and compelling most times, as Logan really offers nothing of real interest to the narrative beyond giving Mariko someone to fawn after. The choreography and sword play are also quite dazzling to watch. “The Wolverine” is yet another vehicle for a character that still hasn’t garnered any depth, complexity, or interesting personality traits since we last saw him in “Origins.” I bemoan future Wolverine movies that are sure to plague the box office, soon.

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