Movie Review: The Wolverine (2013)

Posted: July 27, 2013 in Drama
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the-wolverine

It is August 9th 1945,  Logan (Hugh Jackman) is in Nagasaki, Japan, as the U.S. drops the bomb on Nagasaki, as most of the soldiers commit hara kiri, Logan saves one soldier, named Yashida (Ken Yamamoura) and Yashida is eternally grateful.

Years later, a girl named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) invites Logan to Japan to visit Yashida.  Yukio is a mutant as well, with the power to see the future.  Logan accepts the visit, and visits Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) who by now is an aging tech giant, worth billions, but also dying from the radiation he was exposed to during the war.  Yashida is being treated by a shady doctor,(Svetlana Khodchenkova)  who he calls his oncologist, but is mixing up chemicals much more complex to keep Yashida alive.  Yashida makes a promise to Logan, he will give Logan what he desires most a mortal life, if Logan promises to protect his granddaughter, Mariko, (Tao Okamoto) from the Yakuza, the Japanese mob.  Does Logan agree to protect Mariko?  Who is Yashida’s mysterious doctor?  Does Logan get his mortality back from Yashida’s mysterious doctor?

I have very mixed feelings about The Woverine.  I wanted to like it a lot, because I really love the X-Men trilogy and even the first Wolverine movie.  But it is precisely because of the X-Men movies that I feel like the Wolverine falls short.  The X-Men movies were about large issues, the discovery of mutants, their impact on the world, and the human reaction to the mutants.  This story feels smaller in scope and impact.  And the substitute for story is gratuitous violence, and I’m not talking about comic book violence, people get shot and stabbed and right and that is disturbing.  The story feels almost provincial, being shot mostly in Japan, and the cynical side of me says that was done to draw on the large Asian audience both in the U.S. and worldwide. There is a romance between Logan and Mariko, that seems forced, maybe because Jackman s 44, and Tao Okamoto is 28.  A lot of the script is not worth the paper it’s written on.

There are strong points to the story though.  Jackman does a wonderful job reprising Logan, as a haunted soul, disturbed by nightmares and yearning for a “normal” life. Famke Janssen  is superb reprising her role as Jean Grey, she is a siren, a specter, calling to Logan to join her in eternal rest. Rilla Fukushima, brings some fun and action to the movie as Logan’s “bodyguard.” The rest of the cast pretty much falls flat. The character played by Svetlana Khodchenkova  could have been an interesting one, with a little more development, but they didn’t do that.

There is one action scene that deserves mention, it is when Logan is fighting one of the Yakuza on top of a speeding bullet train, the rest of the action scenes are pretty violent, and largely unnecessary. The Wolverine clocks in at 126 minutes and could have used a lot of editing, but there is a tease for the third Wolverine movie, after the credits, and that looks worth watching, so stay until after the credits.

The Wolverine:  A cat with no claws.

 

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