Some movie goers may well wonder what The Wolverine would have looked like if it received a rating of R than a PG-13 by the MPAA. More bloodshed, seeing Wolvy go berserk, perhaps a bit of gore or how about a splash of nudity? A mix of any of them from the list would have given this flick some added kick about Marvel Comic’s most brutal mutant.
Logan (Hugh Jackman) has gone into seclusion after the events from X-Men 3: Last Stand and he certainly looks like he is living up to his namesake of being a lone predator. These days, he’s more like a hermit. But after a sad attack upon a hapless bear, this act of cruelty forces Wolvy to go after the hunters and point out that savagery is a brutal way to go about hunting.
But before things get worse, namely what this wild man of the woods can do, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a valet, finds and delivers him a message: please go meet with Mr. Ichirō Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) for he is dying. He wishes to see Logan for one last time. The two have a history together. This mutant saved his life by shielding him from nuclear annihilation and Yashida-san wishes to pay his debt by offering him a chance at mortality.
The rest of the film plods around in familiar territory. Logan runs around in his undershirt or is bare-chested. Jackman gets to show off his best beef-cake build to female fans. But for viewers paying attention to the tale, they will find the story direction and reveals far too predictable. There is even some hokey characters too, namely Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) but that does not deter from the fact that both Wolverine films are not without its eye-candy moments.
This movie also moves in classic Wild West meets the pulps fashion. But instead of dusty trails and dilapidated towns, the tale travels East to inject a Japanese flavor. There’s even prerequisite bandits storming the train sequence. To see ninjas running around is cool, but they never seriously faced off against the gun-toting Yakuza. There is no equalizer between the two. Well, there’s a Wolverine, the lone cigar-smoking cowboy.
At the start of the film, viewers find Logan as a prisoner of war. He knows what’s about to transpire in Nagasaki when those B-52 bombers come roaring in. The question of how long was he interred is never explained, and it does not have to. There was a point in the comics where it explained that Logan traveled to Japan in search for peace, to develop his zen, even though he was constantly hounded. In this film, he is a soldier. He will fight as long as the cause is just much like the Highlander. However, there is more to Logan than meets the eye. He is not a beast. He is a man who wishes to come to terms with his feral nature. Much like two other Marvel Comics heroes, namely the Hulk and the Thing, these three just want to be treated humanely.
A bit of that nuance is nicely written into this movie. Audiences see that in the relationship that blossoms with Mariko-san (Tao Okamoto), Yashida-san’s granddaughter. But in true tragic fashion, a proper romance will never happen. To compare that to the Hulk’s feelings for Betty Ross and The Thing’s love for Alicia Masters, sometimes just that one special connection is enough.
It’s that feeling which helps Logan come to terms into understanding more of himself. But without some zen in his life, this movie misses its mark in realizing what Wolvy is about. He’s not just a Ronin. By following a spiritual path in Japan, he might have been able to tame that savage beast in more ways than one.
3½ Stars out of 5