Review: ‘The Wolverine’

Does Wolverine’s healing factor work on his own movies? Let’s find out. 

I’ve always enjoyed the X-Men movies a little more than everyone else. I liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine enough despite their terrible portrayal of Deadpool (when is he getting his own movie?), and I even liked X-Men 3: The Last Stand while everyone else dreaded it.

I think the reason is because I’ve never thought of this X-Men universe as Marvel’s version. It is and always will be Sony Pictures’ take on the mutant team, so I’ve never had Avengers-sized aspirations for these films.

But then Sony went and nailed X-Men: First Class, giving them a reason to soldier on with these characters, and I’m honestly ready for them to just give the reigns to Marvel Studios already. Since that won’t happen, let’s talk about The Wolverine, a movie that consists of everything Sony has learned from Marvel (and D.C. Comics’) playbook.

This is Jackman’s 6th time playing Wolverine, and it shows. He gave the character a little more brevity amidst all of the angst and drama, giving Wolverine fans a definite reason to go out and see this.

The best way to describe this movie is to say it is basically a graphic novel in movie form. They took a singular character, stripped him of the baggage of his back story (to a point), and inserted him in an unrelated adventure story. The only problem? It doesn’t have the best quality of a graphic novel: a great story.

Let me be clear. I can’t say there’s anything bad or terrible about this movie. There isn’t. I just can’t say there is anything spectacular about it.

Brief synopsis: Hugh Jackman returns as Logan, the “Wolverine,” a tormented mutant who can’t die and is still suffering the fallout of killing Jean Grey, the woman he loved that threatened to destroy the world with her uncontrollable power.

It’s years later and Logan has been called to Japan to say goodbye to a dying man named Yashida, the most powerful man in Asia. In WWII, Logan saved Yashida’s life, showing him his amazing healing factor, making Yashida obsessed with acquiring this power.

He makes a deal with Logan to take his immortality away from him so that Logan can finally rest in peace while Yashida prolongs his life. The bulk of the movie is Logan trying to protect Yashida’s granddaughter, the beautiful Mariko, from the Yakuza who want to seize her birthright over Yashida’s corporate empire. The only problem? Logan has lost his healing abilities, making him vulnerable to death for the first time.

Also in the mix is a deadly mutant named Viper and a clan of deadly archers. Logan is aided by Yukio, a seer mutant who can see how a person dies.

What was interesting about this movie is how few mutants they put in the film. Wolverine, Viper, and Yukio (who doesn’t do a single useful thing with this power) are the only ones, which I find to be a good and bad thing for this movie.

See, the problem that has always plagued this character is how powerful he is. Yes, he’s vulnerable emotionally, but we need suspense to fully care about these guys. It was a great choice to incorporate a “mortal” Wolverine, but the concept was undercut by the lack of a great villain he could face against.

Sure, Viper was creepy and evil, but Logan doesn’t even fight her. Yukio’s power is cool, but she barely uses it and instead does cool things with a samurai sword.

Another issue was how this movie played out as one long chase scene. For the amount of characters it had (I didn’t cover everything on purpose), the story was too complicated to justify its taking place over less than a week.

Still, the action scenes were fantastic (bullet train was the best one, next to the final fight), Hugh Jackman was business as usual (which is fine), and I had a good time watching this movie despite how much it dragged in certain parts. The second act is just Logan and Mariko bonding and just felt manufactured to make the third act more compelling.

The third act was great, there’s a twist some people won’t predict, and the post-credits scene is pretty exciting (and no, I won’t spoil it).

This movie is different from other superhero outing, which is its biggest strengths. By the end, I was glad I saw this movie just on the merit of seeing Wolverine’s adventure in Japan on the big screen (though I haven’t read the actual story this movie is based on).

Is this movie worth watching? If you like X-Men, or at least Wolverine, yes. It’s worth paying around $10 for. Casual moviegoers might find this hit-or-miss, so they should opt for renting this one.

Last tip: there’s only one post-credits scene and it is in the middle of the credits. Don’t wait until the ushers have to kick you out of the theater…


4 thoughts on “Review: ‘The Wolverine’

  1. Uhmmm Fox owns X-Men. Sony owns Spider-Man.

    • Fox owns part of the X-Men franchise, while Columbia (Sony) owns Spider-Man, BUT Fox is in talks with Sony about co producing as they have with New Line in the past, so I admittedly glossed over that indiscretion.

  2. This is a very well-written and thoughtful review. I think I fall into the hit-or-miss category, so will wait to rent it. Thanks for the post!

  3. I’m glad to find someone else who can tolerate (and maybe even enjoy) X-Men Origins Wolverine. great review

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