The Wolverine review: the claws are out for this one

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Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
Director: James Mangold

This film is being reviewed as this week’s new headline film to watch on Sky Premiere

So, X-Men 6. Simply titled The Wolverine, to ensure that you have as little chance as possible of placing it precisely in the X-Men canon, and as much chance as possible of accidentally watching it when you were actually planning a quiet night in front of the 1921 creature feature of the same name

The important thing you need to know about The Wolverine, and its place in the X-Men film chronology is this: it doesn’t have one any more. Days of Future Past has erased the timeline that this movie takes place in, so all of the events that happen here are now entirely irrelevant

You don’t need to watch this film to understand any future X-Men films. Instead, you should watch it for its riveting plot, snappy dialogue, thoroughly believable romantic sub-plot, and pulsating action scenes

Y’know, if it had any of those things. As it stands, you shouldn’t watch The Wolverine at all. It is utter balls

Hugh Jackman is, as always, the titular sideburned hero, and he offers up a performance of few surprises. He smoulders, he does pneumatic claw-based punching, and does that thing where the camera focuses on his grimacing face while a wound on his cheek/abs heals unexpectedly quickly – absolutely standard fare. The twist is that this time, instead of being surrounded by an ensemble of superpowered sidekicks, he is surrounded by Japanese civilians of near-uniform levels of uninterestingness. Wolverine finds himself in the land of the rising sun for the funeral of an old Second World War acquaintance, who built a business empire after being saved from the Nagasaki a-bomb by the indestructible mutant. There’s an inheritance issue, some Yakuza happen, and the whole thing culminates in a pagoda-based showdown with a robot samurai. I’ve already told you that the whole thing is utter balls, and reading that plot back I’m now a little concerned that it might in fact be slightly racist utter balls

The whole thing just smacks of by-the-numbers, box-ticking, contractual-obligation-fulfilling rather than the wit, spark and originality that maybe just over half of the other X-Men movies have displayed. It’s as if someone thought that Jackman’s undeniable screen presence would be enough to carry a film on its own, even if everything else about the project was phoned in, corner-cut or otherwise half-assed. A cursory glance at the equally-if-not-more-so utter balls X-Men Origins: Wolverine should have told of the folly of that notion

Our rating: 3/10


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