by Dan Aquino
Directed by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
Some wounds never heal. That’s what came to mind when I found out that Fox was going to give everyone’s favorite mutton chopped mutant another chance with The Wolverine. Could I really trust these people who gave us the abortion that is known as X-Men Origins: Wolverine to pull off a faithful interpretation of one of the most badass heroes to ever grace the pages of Marvel? Ever the optimist, I decided on a rainy day that I would face my own demons and went to see The Wolverine.
The film opens up back in Japan during World War 2. Logan is somehow imprisoned in a Japanese military base (how is that even possible?) on Nagasaki, and America is getting ready to drop all kinds of hell on them. Sensing that their time has come, the Japanese commanders all commit seppuku to die an honorable death. But Logan manages to rescue one of the officers and shields him from the atomic blast, and in return the officer asks Logan to take his sword as repayment. Logan declines and tells the man he will return for it someday. Fast forward a few decades and Logan is living the caveman lifestyle. Constantly haunted by images of Jean Grey, (reprised by Famke Janssen) we see that Logan is desperately trying to end his torment of living for an eternity. Soon, Logan is approached by a mysterious lady known as Yukiro (Fukushima) who is there to bring Logan to Japan at the dying wish of the very man he saved in WW2.
Logan travels to Japan to say goodbye, but soon realizes that he was brought there to actually give the man his healing factor so that he may live forever and let Logan live a normal life. Logan refuses and storms off in his usual brooding manner. But shortly after his first night, Logan finds out after getting pumped full of lead that his healing factor isn’t kicking in as it usually does and now he’s in trouble for really the first time in his life. Faced with mortality and his deep torment from his past, we get to see how tough Logan really is.
In his sixth time playing the character, Hugh Jackman once again pulls off a solid performance as Logan. He’s in great shape for the roll and has the character down to a T. Jackman has stated that if he can, he would love to do the character for as long as possible. With the next installment of the franchise on its way X-Men: Days of Futures Past, I look forward to seeing Jackman back and ready to kick ass.
The story. Oh dear lord how this story drags on and on. Notice how in my brief synopsis how I don’t refer to Logan as Wolverine at all. That’s because the movie kinda just drops the Wolverine persona by the waist side. Going into this movie I was told that we were going to get the part from X-Men 2: X-Men United when Wolverine goes into a berserk rage in the mansion against the special force team. Instead we get one sequence when he takes out a few Yakuza members and then has to be on the run because he can die now. I also thought that putting Logan in a different setting would really benefit the character because in the comics, Logan has a deep appreciation for the samurai way of life. It’s peaceful and respectful and that’s exactly the mentality that Logan needs.
Mangold and his team wasted a golden opportunity in taking out the Wolverine side of Logan. While we know that Logan is trying to swear off violence, there is the animal that resides deep within him that can’t be controlled once threatened, and we never get to see that side of him. Plus he could have fought ninjas. NINJAS!!!!
The Dear God, Why?!
The villains are pretty much useless. This movie really centers on political and business espionage instead of a main villain being at the reigns. The two villains that are billed in the movie are The Viper (played by Svetlana Khodchenkova) and The Silver Samurai who instead of being this great warrior mutant, is now a cyborg because Hollywood. Both of these villains have deep roots in the Wolverine mythos and Silver Samurai is one of Logan’s greatest nemeses, alongside the likes of Sabertooth and Omega Red.
True fans of the Wolverine character are going to be pretty disappointed in this flick. You don’t get any of his signature freak outs, and the body count is actually surprisingly low for my standards. I get that Mangold wanted to do a movie that centered on Logan and how he has to cope with possibly living forever and his torment, but I felt like they were really trying to force home the point. We get it; he’s got demons he needs to confront. Also, I have no idea what Hollywood’s infatuation is with heroes at their weakest lately (ie; James Bond, Batman, Ironman to name a few) but sometimes we just want to see a guy who’s the best at what he does, actually do it!