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Wolverine, The (3D)


Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Nobuaki Kakuda, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Famke Janssen

Director: James Mangold

Very violent for a 12A film, this stand-alone story for the X-Men character finds the morose, mutton-chopped mutant with steel retractible claws (a well buffed-up Jackman) vaguely looking for an end to life (the ghost of the dead Jean Grey - Janssen - begs him to join her), and bashing up rednecks who have killed a bear with a poisoned arrow, when he is dragooned by a red-haired Japanese girl assassin (Fukushima) into journeying to the land of the rising sun to say farewell to the Japanese officer (Yun Lee) we saw him saving at the start of the film, as Nagasaki is flattened by the A-bomb.

Straight away, Wolverine is engulfed by seas of ninjas, yakuza, samurai warriors and various factions of the dying officer's family who are all after the business empire the dying man has built. All that is, except his granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto), to whom he has left the lot.

It's often tough to tell who's attacking who and why, but there are running fights in streets, a train-top combat too CGI-enhanced to be really exciting and a completely barmy last reel battle between Wolverine and the girls against a giant robot and a lizard-tongued mutant villainess who sucks out Wolverine's immortality. It's the kind of film where combatants fall hundreds of feet, then get up and start fighting again.

An unlikely romance between Wolverine and Machiko takes far too long, sinking the film into a temporary patch of boredom, and the plot has more holes than a Japanese fishing net. Why, for example, would the magnate make a contentious will if he were seeking immortality?

Mangold, a good director, clearly thinks he can follow Sam Mendes in offering Bond-type excitements with a sci-fi twist, but he can't - not without a base of reality to fall back on, especially as Jackman and a near-unpronounceable supporting cast act the piece out by rote, A final scene featuring the elderly protagonists from the X-Men movies ensures that Jackman will have to go back on that 12-egg-a-day diet to get those abs in shape again.

David Quinlan

USA/Australia/Japan 2013. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
127 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 20 Jul 2013