The Wolverine 2013
I’m one step closer to watching all of the 2013 superhero and comic book movies of 2013 and this is one that I’m really disappointed that I missed out on in theaters since I’m a big X-Men and Wolverine fan though I’m not about to do any sort of X-Men marathon again any time soon. This is Hugh Jackman’s sixth turn at playing Wolverine, at least if you count his brief cameo in First Class and at least three more on the way with Days of Future Past coming out next year, Apocalypse announced for 2016, and another solo Wolverine movie very likely it seems that Hugh Jackman will be playing Wolverine until he is too old to pull off the mostly ageless mutant. This time around he’s put in Japan which is part of his origin story though this movie has it take place after the events of The Last Stand. He is brought there so a business tycoon named Yashida who used to be a soldier and was saved by Logan at Nagasaki during the atomic bombing. He is now dying and offers Logan an opportunity to relinquish his healing abilities and die a natural death. Things expectedly go sideways and Logan is left to protect Yashida’s granddaughter named Mariko while his healing abilities have been taken from him. Reminding me a bit of 2 Guns, there’s some good character interactions but it’s mixed with a heavily convoluted plotline. And I’d also like to note that I did watch the unrated extended edition for this review.
One of the first things that struck me as slightly odd even when I first started hearing about this movie was the fact that Wolverine’s love interest from Japan that I was familiar with in the 90’s animated series which I believe was also canon from the comic books was Yuriko, who is also known as Lady Deathstrike. And it felt like her character was split into two women for this movie named Yukio and Mariko. Yukio is the mutant who has the ability to see into the future, but the only future she can see is the deaths of those around her, and she is also a skilled swordswoman. Mariko is the granddaughter of Yashida, is not a mutant, but will be given control of the Yashida corporation over that of her father Shingen, and is being pursued by Yakuza during her father’s funeral. There is a very friendly, but not quite romantic relationship between Logan and Yukio while his relationship with Mariko starts off as him being her protector, but they become closer while they spend time on the run/in hiding from the chasing Yakuza.
The convolution comes when discussing the relationships between all of the characters. Shingen is resentful of his dying father because he’s not getting control of the company, and is resentful of his daughter because she is getting it, as well as all of the affection from his father. Mariko has an arranged politician fiance set up by her grandfather, and also a childhood love interest who is a member of the black ninja clan who is sworn to protect Yashida’s family. Yashida also has a mutant nurse/chemist who creates toxins both chemically and within her own body. The toughest part is that there is no clear villain to root against, as nearly everyone comes into opposition of Logan at some point in the movie, and yet they also nearly all are working with Logan at some point in the movie. I never really cared for the reptile Nurse whose name I forget and don’t care to look up, though every time she showed another reptillian trait I had the Nine Inch Nails song pop into my head. She didn’t really have any personality outside of being dangerously sexy, and also didn’t really have any notable motivation either. There ware a lot of so-called significant deaths yet none of them really felt that significant, especially since pretty much everyone dies in this movie, including quite a few bloody deaths which was actually refreshing to see in the typically PG-13 versions of Wolverine in the past. The action scenes overall were quite enjoyable, from the Yakuza at the funeral, to the bullet train sequence, and especially the black ninja clan fight towards the end.
What I did like about this movie was how the character of Wolverine was handled overall. Jackman as always does an excellent job both with the physical action sequences and the gruff-exterior-yet-fiercely-loyal-interior. He has great chemistry with both the almost sibling rivalry relationship with Yukio and the more suble relationship with Mariko which ultimately helps bring a catharsis with his memories of Jean Grey which appear in dreams and near-death visions throughout the movie. What I wish was a stronger element in the movie was the much-hyped fact that Wolverine spends a good deal of this movie without his mutant healing, and yet he he shot several times and is still mostly able to just brush it off and ignore it until things slow down. There are a few overly stylized moments where he feels the pain much more prominently which doesn’t entirely make sense because he’s always maintained that he feels the pain of all of his injuries, they just go away pretty quickly. So it doesn’t make as much sense that the first gunshot would make him pause so much, it’s not until those wounds start adding up that he would notice something is amiss, and yet he spends much of his time afterwards still acting as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Ultimately, I still enjoyed this movie for the most part, it’s a much better feature than either Origins or The Last Stand, but it doesn’t quite have the complete package like X2 or the original X-Men. It’s great to see Wolverine really let loose, but I would have liked to have also seen less of a mess surrounding him. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.