Saturday 27 July 2013

Review: The Wolverine

Year: 2013
Director: James Mangold
Screenplay: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Svetlana Khodchenkova

Synopsis is here

We all have our biases, and for me, a Wolverine film with James Mangold was going to be a negative one. Speak to more open minded bloggers and critics and of course the idea of biases is a secret shame that is often shunned. “We must be open to all things!” Some may scream.

We’re not. Our personal afflictions affect us greatly and the idea of the director of the horrible faux fizzy, Charade wannabe; Knight and Day, helming a Wolverine sequel that was to effectively erase the risible “origins” film out of people’s minds was not on my list of things I can’t wait to see at the cinema. Mangold has had a decent past with the likes of Copland, Girl Interrupted and Walk the Line. However the elements that were making up this feature just didn't seem to meld in my head.

But what do you know (more what do I know), The Wolverine manages to be a pretty effective waste of time. I mean that as a terms of endearment. I had more knock around fun with this than some of the “bigger” blockbusters of the year. I think the reasons are simple. The Wolverine doesn’t seem to be invoking any sort of terrorism, or end of the world foolishness. It’s almost as if the film realised the fatigue that has come with the pummelling all these major cities have taken. The Wolverine has its focus on its people (well mutants) and the all the better for it.

Mangold was quick to spout of a very particular list of films that influenced the film, ranging from the likes of Wong Kai Wai’s Chungking Express to Yasujiro Ozu’s Floating Weeds. Mangold’s choices are interesting to say the least, as while the film doesn’t particularly feel like any of the films he mentions, the first two acts of the film didn’t seem to fall into the same typical categories of similar fare. There an interesting use of framing and space, the action that takes place has weight to it (I was a massive fan of the bullet train sequence) and Jackman clearly looks like he’s having more fun than he did previously. It helps that his supporting cast are a bevy of attractive ladies. Both Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto are fashion models rather than actors. But neither embarrass themselves in terms of performance. The chemistry that both women have with Jackman is palatable.

Yet it’s that dastardly third act, which looks to hamper things as the film moves from formidable jaunt to scattershot clusterfuck. Character motivations fly quickly out the window as the film decides to lend itself to typical reveals for reasons that don’t seem to matter anymore. A shame, as there’s more than enough to make this worthwhile. A screenplay tidy up and a better villain (Svetlana Khodchenkova is hammy and out of step with the tone of the film) would have had The Wolverine as a more solid recommendation. It now gets merely a light tip of the hat for convincing my bias that it can easily be mistaken.