Doubtful after X-Men Origins: Wolverine whether we needed a further instalment of Hugh Jackman’s soloing as Marvel’s hairiest hero, but we’re getting one anyway.
Those doubts are hardly allayed by a prologue recalling his early days as an American PoW in Nagasaki, just before the bomb drops. His selfless rescue of a Japanese officer comes back to haunt him in present-day Tokyo, while his nights are tormented by the ghost of his lost love Jean (Famke Janssen). The supposed tension here centres on Wolverine seeming to lose his immortality, not to mention those famous retractable claws, but it’s allied to a deeply boring plot about a family’s control of a giant tech corporation.
Director James Mangold has his own problems with succession: how to stage one egregiously implausible set-piece and then instantly top it. The thing finally crashes into absurdity during a scene in which Wolverine is performing cardiac surgery on himself just as a man dressed in full samurai fig bursts through a wall intending to kill him. The one good line, after Wolverine tosses a villain over a balcony into a swimming pool, is actually a steal from Diamonds Are Forever. If 20th Century Fox has its way, I very much fear Wolverine is Forever, too.