Release Date: July 26, 2013
Director: James Mangold
Writers: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank, Christopher McQuarrie
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Though it has a few frustrating plot holes and bizarre decisions made by its writers, The Wolverine is a fairly entertaining and occasionally quite fun film. But the entire time I watched it, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why is this the film they decided to make?”
The story picks up sometime after the events of X-men: The Last Stand. Logan (Hugh Jackman) has put his life as Wolverine behind him and fills his days wandering around aimlessly with a mountain man beard. He’s disconnected from the world. His main source of human contact comes in the form of imagined conversation with Jean Grey (Famke Janssen).
Logan is tracked down by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), the granddaughter of a soldier whose life he saved during the bombing of Nagasaki. That man, Yashina (Hal Yamanouchi), is dying and he wants to see the man who saved his life all those years ago one last time. Once in Japan, Logan finds himself embroiled in a power struggle for control of Yashina’s assets, protecting Yashina’s other granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who is set to be the sole heir to his sizable empire.
The plot takes some rather bizarre turns along the way, but it moves along pretty steadily and serves up some entertaining action sequences. I just could never quite shake the feeling that this seemed like an odd storyline to put Wolverine into. I’m all for shaking things up and doing something different, but I couldn’t help but wonder why Logan was there. It seemed like such a small-scale, petty matter for one of the X-men to be caught up in.
Part of the problem is just how underwhelming the villains are. There are three different foes that Wolverine squares off against. There’s Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), the deadly mutant who takes Logan’s healing power away, but she doesn’t amount to much of a supervillain outside of that moment. Then there’s a faction of samurais lead by someone close to Yashina. And finally, there’s the Silver Samurai, which had the most potential to be a great villain, but was used in such an utterly boring fashion that it didn’t really work.
More frustrating than that though were the plot holes and inconsistencies.
One of the major plot points in the movie is that Wolverine’s mutant healing power is taken away from him. Without getting too nerdy on you guys, let me just take a moment to say that this makes no sense. (On top of that, the reason his powers are taken away from him are incredibly convoluted and don’t make much sense once you find out the entire plot.)
Every time Wolverine’s claws come out of his hands, it rips the skin. The only thing that compensates for that is his healing power, which fixes the cuts. Then there’s the adamantium shell that covers his bones. One thing that is well established is that only a mutant like Wolverine could survive the process of having his bones coated in the indestructible metal. Perhaps he could still survive if that healing power was taken away and the metal was already grafted to his bones, but the movie doesn’t even bother to address this point.
It also doesn’t make adamantium as indestructible as its been established to be in previous films. For some reason, it can be broken this time around. And Logan can rip apart an adamantium suit with his bare hands.
I realize these probably seem like minor things that most casual fans would never think about. But when you are taking an established character with a handful of other films setting the rules of who he is and how things operate, I do think you have a responsibility to adhere to those rules. Those little inconsistencies drive me crazy. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Still, Jackman is once again great as Wolverine. Even in his worst movie (*cough* X-Men Origins: Wolverine *cough*), there’s still something extremely satisfying about watching his unsheathe his claws and tear into a bad guy. And director James Mangold serves up some really fun, visceral action scenes, including a great showdown on top of a moving train.
In the end, your enjoyment of The Wolverine probably likely depends on how much you’ve been jonesing for another fix of this character. If you can go a bit longer without seeing Wolverine on screen, I recommend just waiting for X-Men: Days of Future Past to come out.
Speaking of Days of Future Past, if you do make it out to see The Wolverine, make sure you stay through the credits. There is an easter egg setting up that film that is easily the most enjoyable part of the film.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.