Another week, another superhero caper. Well, perhaps not, but it sometimes feels that way. Truth to tell, this is one that slipped through the net, having been released last year and watched only now (after the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine is it any wonder it was low on my watchlist?).
The Wolverine remains a hugely popular character, so even after the disappointing Origins it was perhaps inevitable that the Mutant hero would return in another movie, Marvel quite casual with its reboots (Hulk, Spider-Man etc). So anyway, here we go with The Wolverine.
Well, first things first– its a better film than Origins… how could it not be, I hear you ask. Indeed for the first half I was indeed very surprised; it has the makings of a great movie. Haunted by the events of a past X-Men movie in which Jean Grey died, Wolverine vows to live some kind of peaceful existence that doesn’t involve him ripping things apart with his adamantium claws (yeah, right, like that’d make a cool superhero movie), but events drag him back into reluctant action. A figure from his more distant past, a Japanese soldier that he saved during WW2, approaches him in the present with an offer- to return Wolverine to a normal mortal life in exchange for his mutant powers, with which the now-old Japanese business man will live forever to fulfil his own long-term destiny. Wolverine declines (oddly enough, reluctant superhero decides he likes his superpowers afterall) but is double-crossed and has his powers taken from him anyway.
Suddenly we have a Wolverine no longer indestructible, instantly increasing the drama with a sense of danger. It makes the film suddenly interesting. After all, ask any scriptwriter of a Superman movie how difficult it is to maintain any dramatic sense of peril for an indestructible hero.
Alas, it doesn’t last, the film slipping up in the last third with a rather tiresome fight with a bad guy in a giant robot suit, or something like that. Its a pity that we watch the film unravel before our eyes as it presses the magical reset button, restoring our hero’s powers to enable a big cgi action sequence which ironically feels rather anti-climatic without the emotional/dramatic involvement our weakened hero engendered. It’s not a bad movie, but that last third really undermines the good work up to that point.
Roll credits. Cue mid-credit teaser that promises a better movie than we’ve just seen. Hmmm.