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The Past | The Previous

The Wolverine

I saw the Wolverine last week. It was filmed near where I live and a block from where I once worked as a projectionist.

As a film, it's not bad. Set after the awful X-Men 3, the film offers an image of a bearded, drunken Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) living in the mountains, somewhere. After a fight in a bar, a young Japanese woman shows up, tells him the Japanese soldier who had kept him in a PoW Camp and who Wolverine helped survive an Atomic Bomb, is looking for him. He is dying and wants to say goodbye. Without much else to do, Logan agrees, and he is taken to Tokyo, and by Tokyo, I mean the Western Suburbs of Sydney, specifically the CBD of Parramatta. As news outlets in Australia have long suggested, it's really the home of a large, international Asian Gang. Shockingly, it's Japanese. That would have been at least seventh on their list.

As you might imagine, the best thing about the film, for me, was seeing my local neighbourhood in the film. I know the streets much to well to believe that they hold even a vague resemblance to Tokyo, so much so, in fact, that when Wolverine leads his romantic co-star into the bad part of town, I leaned over to my girlfriend and said, "Hey, that's where that cool Thai place is." There is also a nice Vietnamese place there, but that's across the road the two do not cross, and about a block up. For the Thai place, all you need to do is go back the way the two characters came from. There's no love hotel there, but I suppose that's not too surprising, since, across the road a five story shopping mall is there. It spreads across two blocks, incidentally, and there is a cinema to the actor's right. You can walk up a pair of escalators to get there and, presumably, should any of the film's stars done so, they would have been outraged by how much local cinemas pay to watch a film.

Well, maybe not. I mean, Hugh Jackman wouldn't have been, and I don't know how much of the rest of the cast live in Australia.

There's more! Smith Street features strongly, as does Parramatta's train station, and I suspect a number of the local people appear as extras in the film, and the roof tops of buildings have a man with a bow jumping over them, leading me to wonder if such buildings exist in Tokyo--in fact, that was my over riding question for much of the location shots in the film, and if anyone has been to Tokyo, or lives there, and has seen the film, I'd be curious to know if you thought it was at all plausible.

But what about the film?

Well, like I said, it wasn't bad. In the hands of a more stylish director, the film would have actually been quite good, I suspect. There is nothing particularly bad about James Mangold, but as with Cop Land, a lot of its potential is simply squandered by him. He should have taken a knife to the last quarter of the script, as well, cutting out the ridiculous scene with the Silver Samurai, and paid homage instead to the great samurai fights of a number of films, and had Wolverine and the black clad ninjas go at it through the snow filled town. That would have allowed him to jettison the old man's villainy, which never fits quite right with the narrative of the film, and the less said about the Atomic Bomb at the start, the better. Well, okay, a small thing: if you have your character survive that, it's robbing your narrative of its edge, because, hey, y'know, only things more devastating than Nukes can kill Wolverine. I mean, we know Wolverine isn't going to die--the franchise must continue--but honestly, it's just silly to have him survive the nuke at the start of the film. Simply tone it down to an air strike.

Anyhow! The majority of the films moves along reasonably, the cast is pretty decent, and it is to the film's credit that they present a largely Asian cast in a Hollywood film made in Parramatta.