Wolverine arrives at an interesting moment in the history of the comic-book blockbuster. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight raised the stakes with its quagmire of moral complexity, and the filmmakers here seem to be trying to learn some of its lessons. But after 107 minutes, it doesn’t appear that they learned enough of them.
Screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods take us back to 1845 Canada, where two young brothers with strange healing abilities — and extra-sharp retractable extremities — flee for their lives. For the next 100-plus years, James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) make use of their near-immortality as unstoppable soldiers, eventually landing in a Vietnam-era secret force of mutants led by Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston).
But James rebels against the covert violence and flees back to Canada, where — re-dubbing himself Logan — he tries to live a normal life with a woman named Kayla (Lynn Collins). “Tries,” of course, being the operative word.
Much of the rest of the narrative becomes a straightforward revenge story. That’s where director Gavin Hood wants to anchor the emotional hook, and he certainly spends a fair amount of time establishing the relationship between Logan and Kayla to that end. They cuddle, they kiss, they tell pointedly allegorical myth-stories, all preparing us for the moment when Kayla is sacrificed as certainly as that war-movie kid with a picture of his girl back home.
Only it never quite connects. No matter how much Jackman snarls, Logan never seems genuinely tormented in his grief. Grade: C
Opens May 1. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and find nearby bars and restaurants here.