Years after saving the life of a Japanese Officer, Yashida, during World War II when the A-Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Logan is asked to visit the now elderly man who wishes to say a final goodbye before he dies. When he arrives in Tokyo, Logan (a mutant also known as ‘Wolverine’, who doesn’t age, has remarkable healing abilities and can never die) is given the chance to be mortal if he will give his healing powers to Yashida. While it is a tempting offer to lead a normal life, Logan ultimately declines. Yashida dies but when his funeral is attacked by Yakuza thugs, Logan is drawn into a dangerous world of lies and betrayal.
The Wolverine (2013) – Director: James Mangold
Running Length: 126 mins
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Will Yun Lee
Genre: Comic Book, Action
‘The Wolverine’ is this year’s hotly anticipated ‘X-Men’ movie and Wolverine’s second outing as the main protagonist. The first, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ was flawed but ultimately fun, exciting and, most importantly, didn’t take itself too seriously. Sadly, ‘The Wolverine’ has lost a lot of this charm by trying to be all things to all people. While it is a perfectly watchable and enjoyable movie, the main flaws become apparent when the action slows down and the plot is revealed to be both strained and overly complicated. The director seems to have a checklist of ‘all things Japan’ to get through – Ninjas? Check. Samurai? Check. Yakuza? Check. Over-use of the word ‘Gaijin’ (Japanese for foreigner)? Check. This makes the movie somewhat jarring when jumping from one situation to another.
Hugh Jackman, as always, is perfect in the role of Wolverine. The events of ‘X-Men 3: The Last Stand’ have taken their toll on our hero and he is now living as a recluse. His reluctance to visit the huge metropolitan city of Tokyo and ultimate desire to say farewell to a former friend is both believable and touching, especially when he is normally seen as a gruff and antisocial character. The dreams he has of Jean Grey become a little tedious but thankfully don’t take up too much time. The film starts well with a measured exploration of the sad shadow that Logan has become; lost and without purpose. As the action hots up we are treated to a fun spin on the usually tried and test ‘train top chase’ – just remember that Japanese bullet trains go very very fast indeed! However, come the third act things veer off from this character study into an over the top CGI battle that detracts from the humanity the film spent so long trying to build up. In particular the ending battle is so ludicrously over the top it breaks the film completely. It isn’t even really worth mentioning new ‘bad’ mutant, Viper – her antagonistic character is tied to the ‘leap of logic’ plot and as such she never engages as a believable or interesting presence.
‘The Wolverine’ is certainly a movie for fans of the character and the X-Men universe who can forgive the plot holes and complicated story. The uninitiated who expect a solid action film may be a little disappointed by a slow middle and tone breakingly silly finale.
IS ‘THE WOLVERINE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The opening scene is set just outside of Nagasaki in 1945 when the A-Bomb was dropped on the city. Logan is a prisoner of war and is being held in solitary confinement. Several Japanese officers kneel on the floor and take out swords in order to commit Seppuku (ritual suicide by cutting into the stomach). While nothing explicit is seen, it is clear what is happening and the mean gurgle and grimace in pain. In order to protect Yashida from the bomb, Wolverine holds a metal door on top of him and takes the brunt of the blast. Yashida looks up at Wolverine whose entire body is now badly burned and, while he quickly heals from this and appears to be fine, the camera focuses on his charred injuries for several seconds.
Towards the beginning of the movie, Logan comes across a bear which has been badly wounded by hunters. Seeing that the bear will die in agony, he reluctantly uses his claws to kill it and put it out of its misery. He then finds the man responsible and stabs him in the hand with the arrow that he found in the bear. The man cries out in pain and his wound is graphically shown on camera for several seconds at a time. While there is a general feeling of this man ‘deserving’ what Logan does to him, some children are likely to be upset by the severity of the violence and the visual of so much blood coming from them man’s wound.
For a 12A, there is a lot of relatively strong violence throughout the movie. Most deaths are caused by stabbings (often in the neck), strangulation or with bows and arrows. The character of Viper uses her poisoned saliva to kill or injure people. She licks people’s faces, causing acid-like burns and often licks weapons in order to stab people with poison. Towards the end of the movie, she runs a sharp fingernail down her face in order to shed her skin like a snake; there is no blood or gore but the image of a person pulling off their skin is likely to be quite distressing for young children. One character has their knuckles drilled into; again, no blood is seen but this is shot directly on camera more than once for a number of seconds each time.
The strongest scene is perhaps when one character has to perform rudimentary surgery on themselves to remove something for their heart. They use a sharp blade to slice into their chest and groan and cry out in pain while they put their hands into their own chest cavity. A fight scene is happening around them, however the camera often takes a few seconds to focus on them and there is a lot of blood and gashes are seen briefly on their body.
Whenever Logan is injured, the wounds are graphically shown on camera before his abilities take over and heal him. At one point, glass is seen protruding from his skin and there are several times when there are deep gashes on his face and body. He also uses his claws to kill people who are attacking him; this is usually done with quick camera cuts but there are also stronger moments where he stabs people in the neck or stomach. When needing information, he approaches a ‘bad’ character and threatens to use his claws to hurt him. The camera cuts away but it is made clear that he tortures this man to get the information.
There are also several sexual references. Two characters accidentally find themselves at a Japanese ‘love hotel’ and, having to share a room, are given the options of ‘the dungeon’, ‘the nurses office’ or ‘mission to Mars’. One female character is mistaken for a prostitute and a man asks her ‘how much?’. There is strongly implied intimacy between a male and female character. They kiss passionately and the next scene (which is clearly some time later) shows them lying in bed together. Later, one male character is shown to be cavorting with several female characters, they are all in their underwear and it is clear that these women are prostitutes or escorts.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘The Wolverine’ is definitely more adult in nature than the other ‘X-Men’ movies. While most people will be expecting a relatively child-friendly comic book movie, what they will get is a very adult action movie with a few comic book characters thrown in. The violence verges on the excessive, especially for a 12A movie and many children are likely to be distressed by what they see. Due to the adult themes of the movie, we would not recommend this movie for kids under the age of 10.
- Violence: 5/5
- Emotional Distress: 0/5
- Fear Factor: 2/5 (During a dream sequence where Logan sees Jean Grey, she urges him to join her in the afterlife. Her voice becomes warped and a little scary as she says ‘you can’t have me’)
- Sexual Content: 4/5
- Bad Language: 4/5 (mild and moderate cursing and blasphemy throughout, one use of a strong word. The word ‘bitch’ is also used several times)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (several mentions of death. One character threatens another by saying ‘I could split your pretty mouth open’. Another character foresees the death of another and says that they see them lying down, holding their own heart in their hand)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, complicated families, protecting the people you care about, betrayal, honor, and having a purpose in life.
- Watch out for an interesting scene during the end credits which gives a few clues as to what will happen in a future installment of the ‘X-Men’ franchise.
Words by Laura Record