The Wolverine – film review

Poster for "The Wolverine".
Poster for “The Wolverine”.
The Wolverine is a great summer blockbuster movie. It is ultimately flawed, but you’ll have a lot of fun being disappointed.

Logan is the Wolverine, a mutant with incredible, near instantaneous, healing powers. This power has helped him survive the Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. Years ago, a secret military organization discovered his ability and bonded an indestructible metal called adamantium to his entire skeleton to make him a better soldier—a process he survived.

Later, he joined the X-Men, fell in love with Jean Grey the psychic, then stabbed her to save her from her extremely powerful but ultimately insane alternate personality, Phoenix. This was actually an improvement over the original origin story that involved alien abduction and a sexy doppelganger. Comics. Gotta love ’em. The Wolverine takes place after the events in X-Men: The Last Stand, so movie viewers are expected to already be familiar with the above events.

This story is about Logan overcoming his guilt, told through dreams featuring Jean Grey. By means of flashbacks, we are shown that Logan was once a prisoner of war in Nagasaki. On the day of the atomic bombing, Logan rescues an officer named Yashida and protects the officer from the blast.

Years later, Yashida, now a tech giant, sends an agent to seek out Logan and bring him back to Japan so he can repay the debt. Yashida is dying, but his super creepy-hot doctor has discovered a way to take Logan’s healing ability and transfer it to Yashida so that Logan can die and be free from his curse of immortality. Logan refuses, but it doesn’t matter. The creepy-hot doctor has started the process anyway.

What follows is a turf war with the yakuza and Yashida’s son over control of Yashida’s company from Yashida’s reluctant heir, the beautiful love interest, Mariko. There is a gun battle, hand-to-hand combat, samurai swords, and a slick fight scene on the top of bullet train. Logan rescues the girl, who can also kick butt. They flee to Nagasaki. Make love. She gets kidnapped. Logan tries to rescue her again.

After the first half hour of building the plot, the story lights a fuse and takes off like a bottle rocket, but toward the end the creepy-hot doctor is a mutant snake lady, Mariko’s childhood friend works for the bad guys, Logan performs heart surgery on himself to remove a tiny robot then suddenly battles a suit of adamantium armor, and you’re sitting there thinking “What the heck is going on?”

Here’s where the movie is flawed: it sacrificed character development and logic to spring a surprise on the viewer. It was obvious to me that Yashida wasn’t really dead. When the sentient suit of adamantium armor made an appearance, it was a good guess that Yashida was inside it. What wasn’t obvious was why a man who was portrayed as a loving, doting grandfather with a life-debt to Logan suddenly became a megalomaniacal crazy person hellbent on sucking Logan’s mutant powers for himself in the last fifteen minutes of the movie.

The Wolverine was still enjoyable, despite the “plot twist”. And of course, Logan doesn’t stay in Japan with the girl. He’s got another movie to star in. Stay for the ending credits.

Release Date: July 26, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 10%


Alcohol/Drugs: 3 (alcohol, cigarettes)
Language: 4 (s-words, d-words, deity, and an f-bomb)
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 3 (implied sex, cavorting in underwear, Logan is frequently shirtless)
Violence: 4 (knives, swords, guns, fists…oh yeah, it was violent)

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