PaulDwyer’s review published on Letterboxd:
Continuing my series of X Men reviews with the rather underrated The Wolverine from the year 2013.
2013 was a pretty iffy year to say the least about movies. Sure there were some good ones like Now You See Me and Catching Fire but there were also films that weren't exactly received too well by the public and received mixed to negative reviews like Man of Steel and Iron Man 3. Two of them being superhero films mind.
The Wolverine is not one of them thankfully as this was the first X Men film to really do the character proper justice at the time. Prior to The Wolverine the character of Logan was a great one that was never really given proper time to shine. Either because the movies overshadowed his character greatly or when they did give him attention they shit on his character completely. Even in X Men 1 and X2: United I really felt that Wolvie was never really given the meat to properly develop his character. The Last Stand was a total incoherent mess that didn't even bother continuing to flesh out the character of Logan apart from his forced kill of Jean Grey and the less said about Origins the better. First Class also doesn't count since Wolvie's appearance in that film is considered a very minor cameo and nothing more. Wolverine for a while was kind of like Thor in the MCU. A great and interesting character that was given either mediocre and shit stories and was never given the proper time to shine. Thor was always a great character in the MCU but his first film was meh at best and his 2nd was total bollock shite. Even in the first two Avengers films Thor was never really given any proper time to shine as a character. Played up as a glorified Marvel hero in Avengers 1 and being sent on a weird Infinity Stone cave pool side quest with Erik Selvig in Age of Ultron. It wasn't until Thor Ragnarok that a great character like Thor was finally given a great story that continued very well and consistently into Infinity War. Logan was the same in the X Men cinematic universe I feel. It really wasn't until this movie that the character of Wolverine was done proper justice with a great and compelling story I feel. James Manigold finally nailed the character of Logan in this film. Something that Bryan Singer, Brett Rattner and especially that fuckhead hack Gavin Hood failed to do. Manigold would continue to develop the Wolverine character even further and even bring him to greater heights 4 years later with the 3rd and final Wolvie film starring Hugh Jackman, Logan to great success.
The Wolverine really is an improvement over Origins in every way as a Wolverine solo film. The story is more interesting. Logan is given more to do here rather than the usual generic growling, gurning at the screen, beating up random nameless evil bad guy thugs, showing off his Adimantium claws for fanboys, screaming like he is constipated, constantly quipping away and winking at the camera. Logan actually has a character here with consequences and actions that deeply affect him. He is constantly haunted by his murder of Jean Grey, the only woman he ever loved and his past actions and following the events of The Last Stand has gone into recluse very much like Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. He is then founded by an ally of an old Japanese acquaintance he saved in Nagasaki during his World War 2 days in an amazing opening sequence that alone is much better than anything in Origins and goes to help him only there is more to this than he knows as he is caught in a conspiracy between Yakuza and other Japanese Mafia gang members.
The action in The Wolverine is just fantastic. Talk about being the exact opposite of the rubbish action scenes in Origins. Along with Captain America The Winter Soldier and Spiderman 2 this may be one of my favourite action packed Marvel films. Everything is so well choreographed. The Samurai sword fights and chases always keep you on the edge of your seat and they never drag or get too long. Yes I am looking at you Black Panther. There is even one great and well filmed action sequence where Logan fights dodgy Japanese dudes on a freaking train at incredible high speed!!!!! You can tell here that there is a pattern to the way Logan fights his nemesis as both have to fight on the roof of a fast moving train, in a crowded city full of people with plenty of enclosed high buildings beside them and they both have to dodge wires, railings and lights on top of the tracks at the same time!!!! Sure there are some action sequences in the movie where the CGI is way too heavy, the lighting isn't as good and the editing is a joke but all of the action sequences definitely do best any pathetic joke of an action scene in Origins that's one thing for sure. At least Wolvie doesn't walk away from an exploding helicopter here like he did in that one scene in Origins that looked like he was in a really bad trailer for a new Fast and the Furious film.
Now onto my negatives about The Wolverine. It ain't a perfect film by any means. There are flaws. I suppose I should finish this review up by briefly touching on the biggest two. How this film handles it's villains and the admittedly dumb finale.
I really wasn't impressed with the villains in this one. Viper was basically just like Toad and Sabretooth in the first X Men film. Underdeveloped and underutilized. More should have been done with her I feel. Given how she is the supposed main villain of the film. I also liked the Archer henchman in this who was played by one of the bad guys from Die Another Day. More should have been done with him too I feel.
And of course there is the stupid finale. How do I describe it? It's basically just like a finale from a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 film where they were still trying to get their knack for developing coherent and actually good final acts. This one feels even more like the finale to Iron Man 1 I feel given how Logan basically has to defeat a big dude in metal. The same way Iron Man had to defeat Obidiah Stain/Iron Monger in the final act of his first solo film. It feels dumb, rushed, jarring and a confusing way to end such an hitherto great and well made film. It's like "Hey!!! Let's have a cheap action scene just for the sake of it!!!!" instead of logically thinking it through and planning it through. Talk about going "ah fuck it" at the last minute without making any real effort direction wise.
Despite its finale, The Wolverine is still a solid film and one that gets an undeserved amount of flack I feel as prior to the Logan movie,it is the first X Men film to properly get everything about the character of Wolverine and everything he stands for right. Very much like Mask of the Phantasm in a way. James Manigold made a solid movie with this one and would make an even better and more perfect movie 4 years later with Logan which would be the final film in the Wolverine solo trilogy and sadly the last one to star Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart as both of their respective characters.
Thoughts on the Professor X and Magneto post credit teaser for Days of Future Past? It was good but it still doesn't explain why and how the actual fuck did Charles Xavier survive his death in The Last Stand. I guess we will never really know. "You are not the only one with "gifts"" indeed. Still really cool to see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart together again in an X Men film though.