Picture General George S. Patton. Chances are, the first image that popped into your head wasn’t from a history book, but of George C. Scott playing the famous general in 1970’s Patton. Every once in awhile, an actor comes along who was born to play his role, and just as Scott was born to play General Patton, Hugh Jackman was born to play Wolverine. More than a decade since he first donned the claws, it’s almost hard to imagine that they didn’t use Jackman to model the original character some 50 years ago. From the hairdo to the attitude, to the way he chomps down on a stogie, this classic character comes to life through Hugh Jackman, whether he’s fighting with the X-Men, or on his own.
The Wolverine marks the fifth official turn of Jackman as the Wolverine, in what seems to be Hollywood’s way of saying, “just give us one more chance, I know we can get this right.” After the critical failure of 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, rather than scrapping the idea of a film focusing solely on the Wolverine, the powers that be simply decided that they just needed to give it another try (not to mention they probably didn’t want to give up the rights to Disney after their purchase of Marvel).
This summer has taught me a very interesting fact I never realized before — whenever someone with superpowers needs to clear their head, they just go to a remote town in the Arctic. In Man of Steel, Clark Kent took a trip up north to find out about his origins, while in The Wolverine, Jackman takes a trip to escape his world as a superhero. After an interesting bit of foreshadowing, he is taken off to Tokyo to say goodbye to an old friend. Of course things don’t quite go as planned, and with an excellent blend of of Wolverine’s brute strength and plenty of over the top samurai fighting, The Wolverine starts on a promising path as a pulp adventure, with the vibrant, exciting feel of a comic book come to life.
Unfortunately, when The Wolverine comes to a fork in the road to choose between rip-roaring action or introspective development, it chooses the more boring path, bringing everything to a screeching halt. Pacing is what ultimately undoes the film, leading us down a handful of rabbit trails that never go deep enough to add anything to the story, but still manage to slow things down enough to take away the fun. It’s never really established who is meant to be the villain, so you never quite know who you’re supposed to be looking out for, creating less an air of mystery than simply fostering apathy.
Whenever he isn’t being hampered by convoluted development, Jackman proves that he can still chew his fair share of scenery in the titular role, even when no one else does much to pull their own weight. Jackman’s female samurai sidekick does manage to do a bang-up job keeping up with things, but any good action movie always needs a lively face of villainy, which simply never turns up nor has any sort of direction. For fans of the clawed crusader, The Wolverine will likely provide your fix of Jackman’s attitude and aggression, but you will have to wait through a bit of dull development along the way. The Wolverine is a unique breath of fresh air as a superhero movie that doesn’t feel like a superhero movie, but it unfortunately can’t seem to reach a decision on what it does want to feel like.
My Rating: 2.5 Stars