In commemoration of the upcoming and final installment of the X-Men franchise, DARK PHOENIX (2019), I’m taking a trip down memory lane to review all of the X-Men films made by 20th Century Fox. Should be fun, y’all!
- X-MEN (2000)
- X2 (2003)
- X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006)
- X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (2011)
- X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)
- X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
- LOGAN (2017)
Cast: Hugh Jackman (MISSING LINK , FRONT RUNNER , SHOWMAN , and EDDIE/EAGLE ), Tao Okamoto (BATMAN V SUPERMAN , and the upcoming LOST TRANSMISSIONS ), Rila Fukushima (GHOST/SHELL , and the upcoming ENEMY WITHIN ), Hiroyuki Sanada (AVENGERS: ENDGAME , LIFE , and MR. HOLMES ), and Svetlana Khodochenkova (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Director: James Mangold (3:10 TO YUMA , WALK THE LINE , and the upcoming FORD V. FERRARI )
Writers: Mark Bomback (WAR/APES , and the upcoming THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN ) and Scott Frank (A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES  and MINORITY REPORT )
Composer: Marco Beltrami (A QUIET PLACE , SNOWMAN , SHALLOWS , FANT4STIC , HELLBOY , TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES , and upcoming films LONG SHOT  and FORD V. FERRARI)
Cinematographer: Ross Emery (THE GIVER , UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS , and the upcoming THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN)
Editor: Michael McCusker (DEADPOOL 2 , SHOWMAN, 13 HOURS , and the upcoming FORD V. FERRARI)
This is my honest opinion of: THE WOLVERINE
In 1945, Logan (Hugh Jackman) was a Japanese prisoner who witnessed the Fat Man dropped just outside Nagasaki. An attempt was made by a young Japanese soldier named Yashida (Ken Yamamura) to save his life and let him run. Instead, Logan forced the both of them into his bunker-prison and saved Yashida’s life.
In the present day, Logan has since left the Xavier Academy, vowing to never hurt another person again, still haunted by his killing of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He live isolated in the forest, reemerging only after a bear was killed by a poisoned arrow and not put out of its misery. He’s stopped from killing the hunter in question by a young Japanese woman named Yuriko (Rila Fukushima), who has been tasked to find Logan and bring him to Japan. It turns out that Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi), who has been sick for many years and is on the precipice of dying, wants to say good-bye to Logan for saving his life all those years ago. Reluctantly, Logan agrees, but it also happens that Yashida had an ulterior motive: he believes that Logan wants to die, and is offering him that death, and transfer his immortality to him. Logan disagrees to the request. Not long after the rejection, Yashida dies, but he is unable to leave Japan as he learns that forces are at work to kill Yashida’s granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), and stays to protect her.
So… a bit of history regarding my feelings for this movie. For the longest time, I was convinced that this was the absolute worst movie that the X-Men franchise churned out. Yes, ORIGINS: WOLVERINE was a bad movie, but at least everything that happened, you understood why it was happening. But in THE WOLVERINE, everything was bullshit. They took away Logan’s healing factor, yet he still takes gunshot wounds and walks it off like it never happened. This was the perfect opportunity to force Logan to fight tactical. He has to hide, take cover, and fight smart, instead of bum-rushing into every fight, and they totally ignore their own plot point. I was convinced that for as bad as ORIGINS was, this was far and away, much… MUCH worse.
I am going back on that statement, hardcore.
First of all, I say to myself, the intention for Viper (Svetlana Khodochenkova) was to take away his healing factor completely (I think), but the process was interrupted when Logan woke up half-way through. Basically, it only partially works, in that he still gets hurt, but he still very very slowly heals from it. I maintain that it’s lame that he doesn’t fight tactically, as he does know that his healing isn’t working like it used to, but at least there’s a better explanation than I originally thought. Also, having revisited ORIGINS, not a single, mother f***ing, solitary thing made a lick of sense. ORIGINS is far worse than I remember, THE WOLVERINE is far better than I remember. Having said that, it’s still not a great flick.
I can respect Logan for not wanting to kill anymore. To lay down his life of violence for something more peaceful. Grand. Happy for the bloke. But here’s my question, why does that involve living like a hobo in the forest? Isolation is one thing, but I would buy it better if he was just “nomading” across the country, doing odd jobs, helping the common man with mundane shit. Not causing a ruckus, but not making a name for himself either. Why… a forest? And for the record, it’s hard to feel for his feelings for Jean when his feelings for her in the previous films were never truly justified.
Here’s another thing I didn’t quite agree with, and that’s Yashida making some pretty outlandish assumptions about Logan and his state of mind. He thinks that Logan is feeling weary of his immortality and… wants to die… an honorable death. In a sense, he’s not exactly… wrong, but how in blazes would he know that? For all he knew, Logan had a wife and children and was living exquisitely. This was brazen to assume, and even though he wasn’t too far off, Logan rightfully shrugged the man off. In retrospect, this was beyond dumb.
Why do Logan and Mariko have a romantic subplot? Isn’t she supposed to be in love with Harada (Will Yun Lee)? They were childhood friends, she’s getting forced to marry Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), it just seems odd that they get romantically involved. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ Especially since they don’t stay together. What’s with these movies and having Wolverine have zero chemistry with his romantic interests, and yet he has “offspring” that he has incredible chemistry with? ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Probably one of the bigger complaints, but I didn’t connect with the story. I mean, what is it really about? Logan surrendering his life? Aside from his nightmares with Jean, this is barely focused on, as most of the movie is about him just trying to protect Mariko and… well, not die. But why do I care about anything on that side of the story? Mariko, despite Okamoto giving a damn fine performance in her acting debut, is a pretty bland… and almost stereotypical character. She’s about to be married off to a dude she doesn’t love because of political pull. Well, the politics of this movie aren’t exactly centerfold, so I don’t care. Shingen is barely in the movie and certainly doesn’t have any depth, and we never really see him interact with Mariko, so there’s nothing to connect with. There’s just no stakes worth caring about. Certain scenes are shot beautifully, and given better characters and context would likely be more poignant and powerful, but it doesn’t hit those notes in any way. Ultimately, the movie is boring.
Look, not that I know anything about the comics, but isn’t Silver Samurai… not a transformer? He’s a dude, superpowered or otherwise, in a set of silver samurai armor. I mean, in the context of the movie, I… guess it makes sense, as a weakened Yashida would need a robotic suit to stand a chance against Wolverine, but… boomeranging back around to the whole “taking away Wolverine’s healing factor” complaint, wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just make a set of armor for the younger Yashida, who would by this point have absorbed Wolverine’s healing? Making their fight a little more nail-biting and less… special effects heavy? There was potential here, but someone squandered the crap out of it. Besides, the next movie would be DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. I think the X-Men franchise has had enough of giant killing robots.
Can I ask a question… does Logan remember his past now? That scene in the beginning with him in Japan, that was a memory, not just a contextual flashback for future scenes. So… when did he remember? It’s not exactly made clear how far in the future this movie takes place from LAST STAND, and yet they’re throwing so much new information at us regarding his character. I mean, I guess it’s pretty pointless to make him not remember, since we the audience know about his history now. I guess this isn’t necessarily a negative toward the film, but a quick, “Yeah, all my memories came back to me a couple years ago” would have gone a long way.
But whereas ORIGINS: WOLVERINE had splotches of redeeming value, this movie actually has more than a few good elements toward it.
The movie opens awesome enough. Logan survives a nuclear blast because of course Logan would survive a mother f***ing nuclear blast. This is as proper an opening as a Wolverine solo movie can be. With that said, the rest of these sequences make very little sense. Somehow, the writer of the film forgot that, oh yeah, nuclear bombs give off radiation. I won’t pretend to know how long Logan and Yashida were in that bunker, but radiation was most certainly in that hole. I can believe Logan would survive that shit, but Yashida should have been a puddle of bones and melted skin. No way in hell, mate. That dude is dead. Way dead. Super dead. As in, he’s so super dead, that he’s wearing a big ole red “S” on his chest. Wrong franchise, I know, but that’s how dead Yashida would be. So whatever this movie does right, it’s still got some face-palming moments.
Speaking of Jean, let’s talk about her. On the one hand, I’m more than overjoyed to see Janssen reprising her role as Jean. Despite getting the short straw in terms of great characterization, I have a serious soft-spot for her as the penultimate live-action Jean Grey. Nothing against the future Sophia Turner, but… Janssen, man. I may have liked APOCALYPSE enough, but Turner left even less of an impact than Janssen did and she had a bit more development, if I’m not mistaken. Anyway, I love how her character is utilized here. She’s not really Jean, but more of a representation of death, seducing him to give up his immortality and be with her. Weirdly enough, Jean’s character here has more… well, character than she did in any of the first three films.
The action’s pretty standard, but when it pops, it really pops. That bullet train fight scene stands out pretty well. Even though the green screening is pretty obvious, the speed from being on top of that train is rightfully intense as both Logan and the baddies have to hold on for dear life as the sheer velocity throws them around like ragdolls, making for some pretty fun deaths. And Logan still managing to walk with all those arrows in his back and all those ninjas pulling on him? Likely one of Wolverine’s most bad-ass movie moments, and that’s saying a lot.
Overall, I don’t know if I would say that I like this movie, but there are certainly elements that I like about it. Wolverine is as awesome as he always is, the good actions scenes really stand out, and I think it’s criminal that Yukio didn’t stay on in the franchise, as she was the only side character that was any interesting. Beyond that, the movie itself is pretty bland. Wolverine’s motivations are thin at best and everything involving any character outside of him is boring with no stakes to get invested in. But hey, I’ll take boring solo Wolverine flick over a stupid and infuriating one any day.
My honest rating for THE WOLVERINE: 3/5