I can't wait to see Days of Future Past, if only to discover how Bryan Singer plans to plug the holes left behind by six X-Men movies. That hasn't prevented me from loving every step of the journey. If you're looking for a way to shake things up, however, the upcoming time travel plotline is probably a good place to start. Both The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine have their haters, but the presence of Jackman has always kept the franchise from straying too far off course. None more so than here, in Wolverine's second solo outing, directed by James Mangold (Knight and Day) and co-starring series regular Famke Janssen.
Jackman returns as The Wolverine and faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that takes him to modern-day Japan. Wolverine is vulnerable for the first time, which gives the first half of the movie a different vibe to previous outings. The Wolverine, with its mortal hero and lack of mutants, doesn't feel like an X-Men movie at all. Logan takes on some lethal samurai, a dying man on a quest for immortality and a full-speed locomotive, all the while questioning his own existence and conversing with an X-flame. It's largely bloodless (the 3D Blu-ray retains the carnage) and lacking in humour, but The Wolverine is no better or worse than Jackson's first solo outing.
The Japanese setting is a good start, even if the writing is a little too familiar at times, relying on hackneyed plot twists and genre clichés to keep things ticking. Still, the action is fast and fluid, even if the best sequence arrives with two thirds of the film left to play. Jackman is as charismatic as ever, and The Wolverine is an entertaining diversion for fans of the series. No more, no less. Whether or not we'll see another solo outing remains unclear, but Days of Future Past is going to be one of the biggest films of 2014. As long as Singer can lay to rest the continuity issues that threaten to derail the series. Not a patch on X-Men 2, but a solid entry, Mangold's first foray is arguably the best we can expect from a 12 rated Wolverine movie. AW