blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold)

The Wolverine suffers from too many pots on the stove, a director in Mangold who can’t manage said pots and some really, really silly things. Like giant monsters silly.

The film’s at its best during a long chase sequence–both in terms of run time and story time–when Hugh Jackman is protecting Tao Okamoto throughout Japan. There’s a bullet train sequence, a lot of other running around stuff. It works. Sadly, it comes towards the beginning of the second act and there’s never anything quite as good later on. Maybe if Mangold could actually direct fight scenes the later stuff would have worked better, but he can’t.

Until the third act, the movie plays reasonably well. Mangold’s just mediocre, never bad. The worst things for most of Wolverine are Svetlana Khodchenkova’s ludicrously weak performance as one of the villains and Marco Beltrami’s atrocious, generic score. Maybe if Mangold had found one or two things to build around–like the score–the film would have worked better.

Instead, it flounders.

Jackman does well in the lead, but the script doesn’t ask him for much. Even though he’s got three character development arcs, none of them require any heavy lifting. Mark Bomback and Scott Frank’s script is stunningly lazy.

Okamoto is okay, nothing more, as the love interest. She’s too slight opposite Jackman. Rila Fukushima is a lot better as Jackman’s erstwhile sidekick.

Will Yun Lee is harmlessly lame.

The Wolverine’s full of potential with absolutely no payoff.

It’s Mangold’s fault.

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