Verdict on The Wolverine: It was okay. A little boring, unlike the first movie which was at least hilariously bad. A lot of people genuinely enjoyed it, though, so maybe it just didn’t work for me personally. There be some spoilers.
The premise consists of Logan being invited to see a man he’d saved in the past, who offers to take away his healing factor for him. After he dies, his granddaughter gets attacked, and Logan sets out to protect her.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first.
There were some great action scenes. Not all of the action scenes were good, but the ones that were good made up for the rest. The train scene is a standout. The constraint that they had to stay low while on top of the train required some creative thought for the fight. I liked how they staged it, and I really liked how Wolverine used the hectic situation to his advantage.
The only character that’s been introduced in other movies was Logan, and we already care about him. But of the new characters, Yukio was great. She was so much fun to watch, both in action scenes and dialogue scenes. She had charisma.
This movie was also set in Japan, and I liked that they tried to add little bits of the culture throughout the movie. Obviously the focus was still on Logan and his journey (such as it is), but there were at least some details included.
That’s all I’ve got for the good stuff. It’s much easier to point out my issues with it, though.
The most obvious problem with the movie was that it was confusing. When the action starts happening, we don’t know why it’s happening or what’s really going on. (This can be done in a good way, like in Baccano–which, ironically, is a Japanese take on an American setting). When people start attacking, we don’t know why they’re attacking or why they want to kidnap this girl, Mariko. Neither does Wolverine, but he rushes in to save her anyway. He asks her once why they’re after her, and she refuses to answer. He never asks her again, even though they get closer later. You’d think this was something he should care about, since he was so interested in protecting her.
Even worse, it turns out Mariko didn’t know why they were after her, either, even though earlier scenes made it seem like she did. So, she was randomly attacked by the yakuza at her grandfather’s funeral, and saved by some stranger her grandfather had known, with these yakuza guys still trying to chase her down. She had no idea why she’s being attacked, and is clearly out of her depth. But she acts like it’s normal and tells the guy who saved her life that she can handle it from here. I’m pretty sure this is not the normal reaction to being unexpectedly abducted and then rescued for reasons unknown. She is way too calm about this, and never asks any questions or demands any answers.
And to make things even more confusing, it is later revealed that there are multiple parties trying to abduct her. Throughout most of the movie, we don’t know who they are, who they work for, or what they want. And neither do any of the protagonists, not that they bother thinking about it at all. There are some nefarious scenes about different characters that don’t clear up who’s allied with who at all. Or what they want.
This movie was personally disappointing to me because the trailer made it seem like it might be pretty good. In the trailer, it looked like Logan chose to give up his healing factor because he wanted to die. And then he ended up in a situation where he needed that healing factor, but didn’t have it. Neither of these things are true.
Logan did not chose to give up his healing factor. When he was given the option, he flat out refused it. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances, but he never made a wrong choice that he could learn from over the course of the movie. The movie wants us to believe that he wanted to die, but it never actually demonstrates this.
And his healing factor is only weakened. He still takes, like, five bullets to the chest. The inhibition of his healing factor doesn’t actually mean anything for the story. He falls down a couple of times, but only outside of battle, when it doesn’t make that big of a difference anyway. Honestly, he may as well have still had his healing factor, for all the difference it made in the movie. I was looking forward to seeing Wolverine not be invincible anymore, and seeing him overcoming his obstacles while he was missing his greatest advantage. And he just fell down a couple of times. It never really went anywhere, and he never had to learn to deal with it.
The only characters that were memorable were Logan and Yukio. I wish they’d done more with the other characters. And what is the moral of this story supposed to be, anyway? Don’t save people because they might be jerks and try to kill you later? I honestly don’t understand how the grandfather changed this much, from a man who was freeing everyone and trying to get them to run to safety, to someone indifferent about the safety of others. Why didn’t we get to see any of that progression?
And also, Yukio’s clairvoyance–which the character in the comics did not have, so it doesn’t even count as a continuity bonus–didn’t actually serve any purpose. Not once did it make any difference to the plot. They tried to use it for an emotional moment, where she thought Logan would die, but then it just didn’t happen, with no real explanation as to how it was averted. She’s always right, and then suddenly she’s wrong, and it isn’t used in any way. It’s just ignored. It was a way to build drama for a scene, but it ended up being fake drama. We were all worked up over nothing, and I want to get worked up over something.
A friend pointed out to me that the character, Viper, didn’t really get to do much in the film either. I can’t comment, because during the film, I was all like, ‘oooh, they included HYDRA’ and therefore got totally distracted by the continuity bonus. So props for that. If it was a deflection technique, it worked on me.
I shouldn’t expect so much from most superhero films at this point. We’ve passed the golden age (except Joss Whedon’s Avengers 2 will be awesome, just you wait). But that trailer tricked me. And it proves that someone knows what they’re doing, because the trailer, at least, spins a good premise.