Title: The Wolverine
Country: USA, UK
Language: English, Japanese
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: James Mangold
Music: Marco Beltrami
Cinematography: Ross Emery
Will Yun Lee
Generally speaking, X-MEN series is my favourite among the superhero universe, yet the distant memory of Gavin Hood’s X-MEN ORIGINS:WOLVERINE (2009) has faded into blurry fragments, this time, Hugh Jackson’s Logan (who is in top form in his Wolverine physique) embarks on an exotic journey in Japan, all by himself (with Jean haunting him all along to allure him into discard his immortality), to say a farewell to an old friend Yashida (Yahmamouchi) in his dying bed, whom in the opening sequences, Logan saves during the Nagasaki bombing, only to discover there is a sinister scheme awaits.
First of all, apart from the opening 20 minutes, the story exclusively takes place in the present Japan, which instantly sheds the fatigues of the usual westernised landscape and gives the film a perky start with all the intrigues of an impending internecine strife inside an affluential clan, then, gradually removes Wolverine off his instantaneously resuscitative superpower, makes him vulnerable while hatching a romance with Mariko (Okamoto), the granddaughter of Yashida and the forthcoming heiress of his entire enterprise, and saving her from the assault of yakuza sent by her power-seeking father Shingen (Sanada) and the voluptuous fiancé Noburo (Tee), which turns out to be a lame red-herring, frustratedly betrays the well-expected final twist, a subterfuge never altogether feasible in retrospect.
The action sequences are slick at its most, aka. the fight on top of a fleeting bullet train, and at its lowest is the showdown near the end, the villainess Viper (Khodchtenkova) doesn’t live up to our expectation as an anomaly in this male-dominant profession of a brainy ringleader, neither does her combat skill. Otherwise, the routine stunts (samurai, yakuza and an over-sized robot in a shining armour etc.) can barely raise viewers’s eyebrows.
The movie ostensibly offers a moderately engrossing experience for a first-viewing, nothing extraordinary, but also on a par with its blockbuster standard. But the big sore appears during the post mortem, the story itself contains a glaring plot-hole which cannot go without noticing. I hope I am not nitpicking, and spoilers alert, if all Yashida wants is to take over Wolverine’s power of immortality, what’s fuss to arrange the tête-à-tête of granting him an outage to end his eternal torment, cause unnecessary family frictions with outrageous bloodletting, poison Logan with the risk of him being killed (I suppose a dead Wolverine is no good use for him), and fake his own death with his funeral being broadcast nationally, thus even he would acquire the immortality, how would he justify his outré rise from his grave? He could simply send Yukio (Fukushima) to convince Logan to fly to Japan, and clandestinely capture him using Viper’s poison and take his power by force as they actually do in the climax, no more casualties needed in any rate. I blame this on the screenwriters’ sloth to not even try to fabricate more sense for such a gigantic production. Or maybe this is purposefully conceived as a perspicacious mockery to the double-crossing psyche acutely concealed beneath the humble surface of the quintessential Japanese good manners? I hope it is merely my needless reckoning, otherwise James Mangold did have some guts to imprint his political spin into such a widely accessible Hollywood merchandise! Well, I doubt this is the case anyway.