Film Review: Wolverine

30/04/09 | Posted by MattPage

Wolverine was always the most interesting and engaging character in the highly successful X-men trilogy. Somehow Hugh Jackman managed to offset Logan's physical toughness with suggestions of a hurtful past and a deep disappointment of the world around him. It's not a huge surprise, then, that his is the first character to be given a prequel film of his own as part of the new X-men Origins series.

image
 Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine

And it seems that Wolverine’s origins go back significantly further than was initially apparent. The film starts in 1845 whilst Logan is still a boy. His father is killed by a man claiming to be Logan’s real father, whom Logan claws in revenge. As he flees he is caught up by his half brother Victor, also a mutant, and as the credits roll, the two head into 130 years of fighting together as soldiers. But after being assigned to a suspiciously underground special unit, the two fall into conflict and go their separate ways.

Six years on, and Logan has managed to hide himself away high in the Rocky Mountains, working as a lumberjack and living with his girlfriend Kayla. But the illusion that he is safe in his idyllic hiding place is laid bare one day when his former unit commander turns up with a warning that Victor is seeking revenge.

Jesus’ teachings on revenge are amongst his best known statements, giving rise to no less than four popular phrases: An eye for an eye; turn the other cheek; go the extra mile; and giving someone the shirt off your back (Matt 5). Elsewhere, he controversially claimed that “if you do not forgive those who sin against you, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt 6:15). And there’s the parable he told about a servant who seeks retribution on a colleague despite having just had his own huge debt written off moments before. There are many arguments as to how best to interpret these passages of course. However, perhaps the best example of Jesus’ attitude about the wrong that was done to him was one of his statements from the cross: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

Films about revenge have always been popular, but the success of Mel Gibson‘s Braveheart has seen more and more of them being made. Some of these have sought to examine revenge, the damage and dissatisfaction it brings at a cost not only to the victims of revenge, but also its perpetrators. Such depth is, sadly, absent from Wolverine which dedicates the rest of its 107 minute runtime to allowing its leading man to seek revenge wherever he can. It’s true that turning the other cheek doesn’t quite carry the same level of personal cost when you self heal, but even so…

Most infuriatingly, there are times when the film seems, unwittingly, to stumble across an alternative way to deal with conflict (such as when Kayla diffuses a situation her way rather than his), but quickly manages to cover it back up again before anyone really notices. Likewise, the original movies suggested that Wolverine felt pain every time he revealed his claws. Violence was always at a cost. Here that element is missing, seemingly only to allow infantile middle-finger jokes, a few flashy stunts and an unchecked ability to gain revenge easily.

These are not the film’s only problems either. Knowing that Logan survives to the end of film removes much of the tension, and the film makers’ determination to leave the door open for a sequel-prequel results in a very unsatisfying ending. Plus, whilst we all know that to enjoy a film about a secret army of mutant superheroes we are supposed to suspend our disbelief, I personally resent having to suspend my credulity into the bargain.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. Jackman and Liev Schreiber both do admirably with an uninspiring script, and, as ever, the minor mutant-characters are hugely entertaining. Furthermore, the swooping visuals and special effects are certainly impressive, as is the camera work. Sadly, these few positive elements seem to be the only things the filmmakers have any confidence in, and what could have been an interesting combination of an in-depth character study and an exciting action movie ends up being neither.

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I am very much excited to see next seasion logan

#1. By logan on January 26, 2017

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