The Wolverine Review

The last film of my Original Six posts is The Wolverine.  I wasn’t very impressed with it but it was a great improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Thanks for revisiting my earliest reviews with me! I’ve had a blast going down memory lane and I hope you had some fun along the way, too. 🙂

The Wolverine movie posterSynopsis
After the events of X3: The Last Stand, Logan (Hugh Jackman), aka Wolverine, vows never to kill again and becomes a hermit. However, Yukio (Rila Fukushima) finds him and takes him to Japan to visit her dying employer, Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), a man he saved from the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Once he arrives, Yashida offers Logan an opportunity: to remove his healing factor, giving him the chance to live a normal life.

Unlike many people, I didn’t think X-men Origins: Wolverine was too terrible. Could it have been better? Yes, but it wasn’t awful. I have a similar sentiment about The Wolverine. While it was definitely a step up from Wolverine’s first solo outing, there is definitely room for improvement. I think my expectations were too high, leaving me slightly disappointed leaving the theater.

The Wolverine focuses on a different aspect of Logan’s character than previous films. The film looks at who Logan is without his healing factor. This has been dealt with several times in the comics and has translated well onto the big screen.

The action is pretty intense and fun. Despite a character-driven story, there are a fair amount of action scenes spread throughout the film. My favorite scene is a fight between Wolverine and some Yakuza thugs that takes place on top of a bullet train. As you can imagine, it is cheesy at times, but at the same time it’s some good fun.

One of my qualms with The Wolverine is that it tries to incorporate several villains and in doing so, loses focus on each one. There are three: Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), better known as the Silver Samurai, Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), a mutant immune to poisons, and a third, who pulls the strings and is not revealed until the final battle scene. Shingen dominates as the villain for the first two-thirds of the film, though not in his Silver Samurai persona (more on him later). And not a villain the the traditional sense like Viper was, but rather a person who butted heads with Logan. Given Viper’s history with Wolverine in the comics, I would have expected more of a presence throughout the entirety of the film, rather than just towards the end. There were also ninjas and the Yakuza added to the mix, making for a large variety of people for Wolverine to fight. This lack of focus leaves the movie devoid of a strong, central villain.

Fox’s X-men franchise has exhibited a wider variety of superpowers than Disney’s Marvel movies, who, as Joss Whedon put it, have “punch-y powers.” Sadly, that variety was severely lacking this time around. The only mutants were the titular character and Viper. In the comics, Silver Samurai was also a mutant. He could envelope his sword in an energy that made it strong enough to cut through anything, even adamantium. Instead, he was split into two individuals: who the silver samurai is, the character Shingen, and his powers, a robotic Silver Samurai made from adamantium with a sword that can cut through anything. I didn’t mind this character change because it worked for the story (and many movie adaptations take liberties with characters, so I’ve stopped worrying about it if it works), but it would have been nice to see a few more mutants showcased.

Speaking of the Silver Samurai robot, the final fight between it and Wolverine was pretty intense and awesome. However, I was left disappointed with the outcome. Wolverine left the fight with a physical change, which could have been easily changed back by the end of the film, but was not. I’m interested to see if this physical change will be fixed by the next X-Men movie or if it will still be there. If they keep this change, it will make for an interesting feel in the next film.

Ever since Iron Man, more and more movies have been including mid- and after-credits scenes to tease the next installment of the franchise. However, none have gotten me as excited as The Wolverine‘s mid-credits scene. Instead of a teaser, it pretty much sets up the next film (X-Men: Days of Future Past, which comes out next year for those of you keeping track). It is absolutely worth the few minute wait.

The Wolverine is a step-up from Wolverine’s last solo movie, but a lack of mutants and villain focus still left me wanting. However, the character study this time around was much tighter and appealing. Maybe a third solo Wolverine film will give us a Wolverine-centric story with the quality of X2: X-Men United.



Cast & Crew
James Mangold – Director
Mark Bomback – Screenplay
Scott Frank – Screenplay

Hugh Jackman – Logan
Tao Okamoto – Mariko
Rila Fukushima – Yukio
Hiroyuki Sanada – Shingen
Svetlana Khodchenkova – Viper
Brian Tee – Noburo
Haruhiko Ymanouchi – Yashida
Will Yun Lee – Harada
Ken Yamamura – Young Yashida
Famke Janssen – Jean Grey