Too Bad The Wolverine Isn’t as Interesting as Hugh Jackman

Too Bad The Wolverine Isn’t as Interesting as Hugh Jackman

As summer comic-book blockbusters go, The Wolverine is not as elephantine as it could have been. It’s more, well, wolverine—bony, loping, a little shaggy—and, blessedly, director James Mangold doesn’t get bogged down in mythology. You don’t need to diagram the convoluted relationships between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s X-Men characters to figure out what’s going on. All you really need to know is that Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a mutant whose knuckles sprout adamantium claws whenever he’s threatened, has a secret that haunts him: He killed the person he loved best, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and now she keeps appearing in his dreams, wearing a silk nightie and slinging accusatory barbs more piercing than any set of mutant talons.

But like so many of this summer’s comic-book movies, particularly the hollow, forgettable behemoth Iron Man 3, The Wolverine represents a missed opportunity. Mangold tilts the movie heavily toward elaborate action sequences and skimps on the more romantic angles, which is especially frustrating since Jackman is the kind of actor who can deftly handle both. That’s clear from the stunning double opening, two scenes so striking that either could have been used to kick things off. In the first, Wolverine’s long-lived alter ego, Logan, finds himself hiding out in a deep hole on Nagasaki just as the bomb is about to hit. A young Japanese soldier threatens to root him out, but Logan ends up saving his life when that mushroom cloud of doom finally erupts: Just as the soldier is about to commit seppuku, as his fellow warriors have already done, Logan whisks him down into the hidey-hole. The act sets up an intriguing slant: Even though cultural mores dictate that this soldier should be happy to die, there’s something in him that desperately wants to live.

The movie’s “second” opening, set somewhere in present-day Ted Nugent territory, involves a lumbering grizzly


The Wolverine
20th Century Fox
Written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank.
Opens July 26

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