The Wolverine

Director: James Mangold (2013)

Hugh Jackman returns once again as the adamantium-clawed superhero in a movie that barks loudly but has too little bite.

Wolverine has left  the X-Men and is now known simply as Logan. He living a hermits existence in the wilds of Alaska when he is visited by the dangerous punk haired samurai Yukio (Rila Fukushima).

She transports him to Tokyo where he is introduced to her mentor, the dying Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) whose life Logan once saved.

When Yashida’s beautiful daughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) is attacked, Logan becomes involved in a dangerous battle of rival clans involving political intrigue and betrayal.

The film starts brilliantly and ends in a huge fight but the middle sags as Logan battles his inner demons.

There is a terrific fight on the roof of a bulllet train but the many ninja’s can’t execute the simplest attack without somersaults, pikes, twists and triple salchows – which must be exhausting and possibly not even neccessary.

They also insist on wearing their trademark all-black costumes when fighting in the snow. This isn’t displaying the requisite discretion these stealth warriors are famed for.

Jackman is an engaging screen presence and is most fun when he’s angry. He never shirks an opportunity to demonstrate his monstrously buff physique.

Okamoto is a graceful willow to Jackman’s hefty oak. But she lacks animation and there’s not a great deal of chemistry.

Much more fun are Yukio and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). One is a fiesty and flirtatious foil for Logan, the other a glamorous poison-spitting mutant adversary.

This Wolverine is neutered by the 12A rating.  With his bladed hands slashing through his enemies,  the original comic turned to soggy pulp from all the red ink used in the fight scenes – but this is a noticeably bloodless affair.

As is the passionless romance which suffers from Logan mooning over his dead lover Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) while distractedly wooing the insipid Mariko.

This is an honourable and diverting attempt to bring depth to a familiar character but isn’t hugely rewarding.