The very premise of “The Wolverine” hinges on concepts so outlandish and incredible that they’re difficult to digest even in the already far-fetched sci-fi world of super-powered mutants and indestructible metals. Rather than having the nearly invincible title character face off against villains of superior intelligence or foes endowed with stronger abilities, two new ideas are presented that shatter the boundaries of mutant precedents. Similar to inventing “Kryptonite” to suppress Superman’s invulnerability, here the suspense is both generated and cheapened by simply inhibiting Wolverine’s healing powers with unexplained inventions. Despite the contrived nature of such adversity, the action sequences are often creative and sometimes border on exhilarating – at least until the vapid snake-woman nemesis and her ludicrous mechanical samurai show up to spoil the fun.
After the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and the disbandment of the X-Men, Logan (Hugh Jackman) a.k.a. The Wolverine, forces himself into isolation. But it’s not long before he’s located and summoned to Japan by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), the attaché of renowned technology magnate Ichiro Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi). Once there, Logan becomes ensnared in an intricate plot by both Yashida’s successors and the Yakuza to usurp the old man’s empire and kidnap his granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Determined to protect the young heir, Logan escorts her to a remote countryside after a Yakuza strike leaves him with the startling revelation that his healing powers are no longer functioning. When their enemies track the two fugitives to their retired village hideout, Logan must find a way to restore his abilities and rescue Mariko from the clutches of a treacherous madman.
The character of the Wolverine has now appeared in so many films that his adventures are becoming purely episodic. None of them are reinventions or reboots, but rather continuations that recognize his previous activities, which are now summed up merely with nightmares that allude to a haunted past. It’s fittingly obscured, saving time from reiterating; it also allows the role to be transplanted into just about any time and location. In this instance, integration into the WWII bombing of Nagasaki is effortless, facilitating historical intrusions that generate an impressive recreation of the explosion itself. Sadly, it has no impact on the creativity of the primary plot, which is hopelessly generic and honeycombed with catchphrases and undecorated dialogue. “It’s a trap, Logan!” insists Yukio as the Wolverine plunges into the climax, heavily outnumbered and with absolutely no plan.
The action choreography initiates with an impressive chase through the bustling streets of Tokyo, like something out of Michael Mann’s “Heat,” as a harbinger for realistic, suspenseful adventure. Unfortunately, this is supervened by a grapple on top of a bullet train that immediately ignores all the believably intense aspects just observed – dispensing with gravity, physics, and propinquity with sensibility. Transcending to the antagonists (and not lost on Mariko, the worthless princess spontaneously transformed into a philosophical love interest), Marvel’s collection of mutant villains has been exhausted to the point that the Viper, with barely a clever superpower, feels like an indifferent last resort. Although it’s intended to follow the storyline of the popular comic book series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, the amount of talent brought on board to work on the script should have resulted in something more absorbing.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)