I just ran through a thunderstorm as I walked out of The Wolverine (James Mangold 2013). Thankfully, I wasn’t running in horror from a bad movie. But The Wolverine was far from perfect. There were some issues with character development and some confusing plot progression.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie, despite its issues. The action was face paced, but not overwhelming. I would recommend people go see it, provided they keep in mind it isn’t going to be the best comic book movie out there. But it will be a good romp.
I’m done with this spoiler free part, I want to start talking about the film. Spoilers ahead.
The movie opened with Logan the life of a young Shingen Yashida as Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima. But it was all a dream. A dream within a dream that finally placed us in reality. And boy is reality a bit scrappy. Logan is living with a radio, some whiskey, and a fat cigar in a cave. When Logan’s friend the bear is shot in the back with a poison dart. When he confronts the killer, we are properly introduced to Yukio.
Yukio was a badass little spider monkey. Sure, I didn’t get a good feel of where she was coming from and the emotions that came along with it. But her affinity for Logan grounded her character. It was clear that she cared a lot about him and Mariko too.
Also having her be a mutant didnt really add anything to the story. It felt like a weak attempt to heighten tension.
On to Mariko. She was a typical damsel in distress. However, her ability to actually defend herself at times made me not hate her. Even when she was abducted with no weapons, she struck back. Her action helped her transcend from useless character always needing to be saved to someone who wanted to take action on her own, even if she still needed help.
While I was never lost when it came to the plot, but I felt like it had unnecessary convolution. Instead of intricate plot lines weaving together, it felt more like the brig was being pulled out from beneath me. Once I regained my footing, they tried to wedge the rug back under my feet.
I hate to point the confusion of a muddled plot on one character, so I will do it to two. Every scene with Viper got under my skin. She was an evil bitch and her motives were unclear. She was out to help a person, which I won’t reveal, but I didn’t understand why should do it. Except for kicks. I wonder if I should even mention how campy I felt her over the top outfits and behavior was. It felt almost out of place in the film
The other half of the blame is going on Mariko’s father. He was a rotten man and apparently not smart. not worthy of the company he wished to run. If Mariko is his daughter and he knows that she will obey him, there is no reason for his resentment toward his daughter. If he just realized he could have controlled her, a large part of the conflict would have disappeared. Conflict for the sake of conflict without characters thinking annoys me.
Some Other Notes
Harada’s motivations seemed flimsy. He seemed to care deeply for Mariko, yet his loyalties came off as divided. He followed Shingen’s orders to protect Mariko, but he couldn’t realize when he wasn’t working to her benefit. Maybe he was being short-sighted, blinded by love. But it made what could have been a great character weak.
Have you noticed a trend, yet? There were a lot of characters. Too many of them weren’t given enough time to care. It tore time away from characters who could have been better developed. I would have appreciated getting a bit more time with Yukio to better understand her motivations, the same goes for Harada.
Ultimately, it was a fun movie. Besides, how can I hate a movie with ninjas?