So with the X-Men franchise getting some new life in it, Fox decided to attempt to make a second Wolverine spin off movie. Unlike the last movie however, this movie took place after the events of The Last Stand, and had a somewhat darker story line to it. To be honest, that is what a lot of people hoped the first solo movie would be like, as Wolverine is a rather dark and somewhat of an anti-hero character. Personally, I wanted to see it because it was touching on Logan’s time in Japan, which did have an integral part in the development of his character. So I decided to take a chance and headed to the theaters one Sunday morning to give today’s movie, The Wolverine, a shot and I have to admit that I wasn’t disappointed.
The plot: In 1945, Logan is being held prisoner in a Japanese military prison when the base sounds an alarm and starts evacuating personnel as a B-29 approaches the nearby city. As he looks out through his isolation cell, he notices one of the officers, Ichiro Yashida, freeing the other prisoners, then notices Logan watching him. He approaches the cell and frees it, then tells Logan to leave but Logan, knowing what that plane is carrying, says there is no out running it and that he is safer down there with him. Yashida’s commanding officer calls out to him and Yashida joins them, watching as they commit seppuku just before the bomb drops. As Yashida watches the explosion occur, he starts to commit seppuku himself but Logan stops him and tells him to run back to the isolation cell, then shields Yashida from the blast with some debris. After the fire passes, Yashida watches as Logan heals himself, then tells Yashida to wait, as it is not safe outside yet. In the present day, Logan is living as a hermit up in the mountains in the Yukon, plagued by visions of Jean Grey, whom he was forced to kill. When he heads into town to get some more batteries for his radio, he notices a group of hunters preparing to head out into the woods. That night, he hears some screams and gunshots coming from the woods and when he goes to investigate, finds a campsite trashed with several of the hunters dead. Following the bear’s tracks, he soon locates the bear dying from a poisoned arrow and is forced to put it out of it’s misery. Logan heads into town, where the survivor is telling everyone about the attack and he jabs the arrow he removed from the bear into the man’s hand. Logan tells him that because he didn’t track down the bear to finish the job, the poison drove it mad and caused it to attack and kill his friends. The man attacks Logan and he moves to use his claws on him but he is stopped by a young Japanese girl named Yukio, who tells him not to worry about them, saying they will die soon anyways, then has him leave with her. Inside her car, she tells him that Yashida sent her to find him to deliver a sword to him and ask that he come to Japan so he can say his goodbyes in person, as Yashida is dying. Logan argues with Yukio at first but reluctantly agrees to go to Japan to say his goodbyes. On the plane there, he speaks briefly with Yukio about her saying that the men would die soon, saying her being specific about it is quite a gift, and asks if he will die on this plane and she cryptically says no, not on this plane. When they arrive at Yashida’s house, Yukio explains that the Yashida’s have had trouble with the Yakuza, hence the armed guards, and then leads Logan inside. As they approach Yahsida’s room, they see his granddaughter Mariko inside and when she leaves upset, Yukio tries to ask what is wrong but Mariko tells her it is nothing, then says that Logan can’t see Yashida like that. After forcing Logan to get a bath and shave, Yukio brings him in to see Yashida, who dismisses his oncologist Dr. Green so he can speak privately with Logan. Yahsida tells Logan that he can remove Logan’s immortality so that he can die like a normal man, and in the process use it to restore his own life, but Logan refuses the offer, telling Yashida he doesn’t want what he has. That night, Logan has another dream about Jean and as they kiss, he finds himself suddenly kissing Dr. Green, who slips something inside him during the kiss. When he pushes her away but finds no sign of her, he dismisses it as a dream, just as the house becomes ablaze with activity as Yashida dies. The next day, Yukio brings Logan to the funeral and he notices Dr. Green seeming to give him a lot of attention, as well as a man sitting on a nearby rooftop. Yukio introduces Logan to Shingen, Yashida’s son, and Logan offers his respects to him. As the funeral commences, Logan feels something is off and tries to warn Mariko, as Yashida had asked him to protect her but she dismisses his warnings, only for the priests, who are Yakuza in disguise, to begin attacking the funeral and attempt to kidnap Mariko. Logan is shot and discovers that his healing factor is not working properly but he continues to fight the Yakuza and manages to escape with Mariko, with Harada (the man on the roof) helping them escape by shooting some of the pursuing Yakuza with his bow. After ditching the pursuers, Mariko tries to leave Logan and get on a train but he follows her, arguing that where she is heading would be the first place they will check. As Logan heads to the bathroom to try and tend to his injuries, he encounters some more Yakuza and ends up fighting them, ending up on the roof of the train during part of the fight. After getting rid of them, Logan returns to Mariko and tells her they need to get off the train and ends up checking into a love hotel to hide. As Logan finally passes out from his injuries, Mariko has a veterinary student, who is the hotel owner’s grandson, come in and treat him. Meanwhile, Dr. Green, also known as Viper, meets up with Harada and Viper chastises Harada for not finding Logan, telling him that he is mortal now and easy to capture. When Logan regains consciousness, Mariko leads him to Yashida’s family house in Nagasaki and Logan sees a picture of Mariko with Harada and asks her about him as well as her fiance Noburo. The next day, after Logan helps the village remove a fallen tree from the road, Logan finds himself at the spot where he and Yashida first met and he recalls their leaving the cell and Yashida offering his sword as thanks to Logan, who asked him to keep it for him until he returned for it. Mariko and Logan end up getting closer and the end up kissing and sharing a bed together. The next morning, Logan wakes up to find Mariko missing and he heads outside to find her being kidnapped by some men. Logan tries to stop them, getting shot in the leg in the process, but he is unable to stop them from driving off. Approaching one of the men that he wounded, he begins to question him, using his claws to stab the man to force him to answer. Yukio, who had a dream of Logan’s death the night before arrives and when Logan approaches he tells her to take her to see Noburo. When they arrive at his penthouse, Yukio tells Logan about her dream and tells her she is going with him as his bodyguard. When they enter the room, they find Noburo with two prostitutes and quickly tell the girls to leave, then Logan proceeds to question Noburo on Mariko’s disappearance. Noburo tells them that Yashida’s company was almost ruined in Yashida’s quest to prolong his life, as well as his obsession with Logan. Shingen tried to cover up the debt from the stock holders but Yashida left the company to Mariko instead of her, so the only way to get control of the company was to have Mariko killed. At the Yashida house, Mariko and Shingen are arguing when Shingen’s men are all killed by ninjas from the Black Clan. They ninjas grab Mariko, who fights with them at first until Harada appears and says everything is ok. Viper then approaches Shingen, who is shocked to learn she is behind this, and she uses her power to poison a pen and stab Shingen with it. When Logan and Yukio arrive, they find a note saying to “come get her” and Yukio tells Logan where the building is they are holding her. While in Yashida’s room, Logan uses his x-ray machine to examine his body and discovers a robotic parasite attached to his heart and realizes that that is what is supressing his healing factor. Yukio tries to stop him, saying she saw him die holding his own heart but Logan tells her they don’t stand a chance in rescuing Mariko unless he can get his powers back, then slices open his chest and starts reaching inside. Shingen, who had survived the poison, enters the room and moves to attack Logan but Yukio stops him and begins fighting him just as Logan succeeds in removing the parasite, but flatlines shortly afterwards. As Yuriko continues fighting, Logan’s wounds begin to heal and he regains consciousness in time to stop Shingen from killing Yukio. Logan and Shingen begin fighting and Logan initially spares him, thinking that his trying to kill his own daughter was punishment enough but when Shingen tries to attack Logan from behind, Logan is forced to kill him. Logan heads out to Yashida’s mountain facility and is confronted by Harada and the Black Clan. Harada tries talking to Logan at first but when Logan refuses to back down, he attacks him and with the ninjas continuously tying him down with arrows, manages to knock him out with some poisoned arrows. When Logan comes too, he is restrained in a chair and Viper taunts him into revealing his claws, allowing her to quickly restrain his wrist so they can’t retract. Viper looks towards a giant Silver Samurai, which suddenly starts moving and pulls out an adamantium sword, which begins to glow red hot. As Mariko watches from above, she begs Harada to let her go to Logan but Harada says to trust him and kisses her but she stabs him in the leg, then heads to Logan. The Silver Samurai moves to slice off Logan’s claws but Mariko gets in the way so the samurai ends up destroying his restraints instead. Logan tries to escape with Mariko but the Silver Samurai attacks them so he tells her to run while he fends off the samurai, but gets the claws on one hand cut off. Viper tries to stop Mariko but Harada shoots her with an arrow, then goes to stop the samurai, but ends up being stabbed through the chest. Logan grabs one of the samurai’s swords and uses it to cut off it’s head, then continue attacking it. Yukio shows up and encounters Viper and the two begin fighting and Yukio manages to kill her by tying a cable around her neck and hanging her. Logan and the samurai tumble down the complex and almost fall off the mountain but Logan manages to stop himself. As Logan starts to pull himself up, the samurai cuts off the claws on his other hand, then grabs both of Logan’s hands, securing them in it’s gauntlets. Drills in the samurai’s gauntlets begin drilling into the openings where the claws were and start draining Wolverine’s life out of him and Logan sees that Yashida is still alive and the one in the samurai armor. Yashida’s youth and health are restored and he prepares to kill Logan but he is stabbed in the head with one of Logan’s severed claws by Mariko. Logan recovers and, regenerating his bone claws, stabs Yashida and throws him down the mountain, killing him. The next day, Logan prepares to leave Japan and Mariko kisses him and asks him to stay but he tells her he has been hiding too long and has to go back. Yukio goes with him, planning continuing as Logan’s bodyguard as they depart to places unknown. Two years later, Logan is returning to the US when he encounters Magneto in the airport. Magneto tells Logan that dark times are ahead and he needs Logan’s help. When Logan asks why he should trust Magneto, he notices that everyone around them has stopped and he turns to find Xavier approaching, shocking Logan as he believed Xavier was dead, and Xavier motions to Magneto and tells Logan they have to talk.
The Wolverine met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is “Although its final act succumbs to the usual cartoonish antics, The Wolverine is one superhero movie that manages to stay true to the comics while keeping casual viewers entertained.” The samurai sword that Yashida attempts to give Wolverine after he saved his life has 6 kanji characters engraved on it. The characters, which read “Never Died, Never Aged, Never Destroyed” is a fitting description for Wolverine. The movie was a success at the box office, earning $414.8 million off of a $120 million budget and was followed up by the final movie in what would become known as the Wolverine trilogy.
This is the Wolverine movie that most people were looking for and I rather enjoyed it. The acting was pretty good, with Hugh Jackman doing a great job as Logan and showing the guilt he has been struggling with since killing Jean. I also liked Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shingen), and Rila Fukushima (Yukio) but thought that Svetlana Khodchenkova was terrible as Viper. I think part of my dislike for her is that the couldn’t use the real Viper character, as she has too many Hydra ties (which would cause problems with Disney and the MCU), so they decided to completely rewrite her to be a mutant with snakelike and poison abilities. The story was good on a lot of levels. I loved how they brought up Logan’s guilt and his isolating himself as punishment for killing the woman he loved but then gave him some form of redemption by introducing Mariko and allowing him to get close to her. I also liked the plot about Wolverine losing his healing factor for a while, and his trying to come to grips with the fact that he might actually die now. I will say that I was a little skeptical on the whole “heated adamantium blade being able to cut Wolverine’s claws” bit but it made for a neat fight scene so I will allow it. As for Viper, I can deal with her surviving Harada’s poison arrow, as she has an immunity to toxins, but that part when she sheds her skin like a snake was just too stupid. The special effects were pretty good and I really liked the fight scene on the roof of the train, and the scene with Logan racing through the village and being shot continuously with the roped arrows. It’s a good movie and a great segue from the main X-Men movies.
Rating: 4 out of 5