Sadly, I think most moviegoers' responses to news of a new movie centered around the X-Men character of Wolverine were a puzzled "Why?" After the abysmal attempt at a solo Wolverine story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, most probably wondered if Hugh Jackman would ever don the tri-blades and mutton chops ever again.
But plans for a new entry into the Wolverine mythology were made, and before long, The Wolverine was born. While Origins had taken place before the events of the original X-Men movie trilogy, The Wolverine takes place after the 2006 film, X-Men: The Last Stand. After Jean Grey had been reborn as The Phoenix and served as a weapon of destruction for Magneto, Logan had to kill Jean, with whom he's always been in love with, to save everyone. With her loss, he left Xavier's school for mutants and went out on his own to live as a hermit. But the past has a way of finding Logan, and a mysterious girl named Yukio shows up in a secluded mountain town to bring Logan to see an old friend he'd saved the life of in WWII.
The story that unfolds is considerably more gritty than Origins, and it minors on mutants and majors on story and character, with Logan being presented with the opportunity to give up his ability to heal and be immortal in exchange for mortality. At one point, his powers are greatly weakened and Logan encounters the first time in his life when he finds himself suffering from intense wounds that aren't really healing on their own.
The Wolverine largely takes place in Japan, and the neatest thing about this film is that it naturally flows from the previous trilogy into what will come next for X-Men on the big screen. The whole film deals with Wolverine's inner demons and the brokenness he'd endured after the events of Last Stand. And what's beautiful about this story is that, in the movie's final moments in the end credits (an additional scene that's about halfway through the credits roll), we see some familiar X-Men faces and a setup scene that takes a page out of the Avengers book for giving fans something to cheer about and drool over. Let's just say it perfectly serves as a lead-in to next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past. But, ultimately, what The Wolverine serves as is a repurposing for Wolverine's life, and I'm interested to see where Jackman takes Logan in the next X-Men adventure.
The tone for The Wolverine, as I mentioned before, is much grittier than Origins and even some of the X-Men movies. If anything, it's probably more in line with the tone of X-Men: First Class. James Mangold, who previously directed Jackman in the romantic comedy Kate & Leopold and directed the highly underrated Knight and Day a couple years ago, gives The Wolverine an edge that most fans have been chomping at the bit for. And while some of those fans won't be getting the R-rated gore fest they crave (thankfully), The Wolverine is still extremely violent and frequently bloody, pushing that PG-13 envelope once again. However, it's mostly bloody when it comes to the Wolverine character himself. If we're not seeing wounds of his magically close up and heal on his body and face, we're seeing the bloody mess of wounds that aren't. And, minor spoiler ahead, there's a pretty graphic scene where Logan takes his adamantium claws and cuts into his own abdomen and sticks his hand inside the wound. (Yes, you read that right.) If that sounds gross to you, it really is. The camera doesn't focus on it in too much detail, but it's still enough to make some viewers queasy. They do show him plunging the blades into his abdomen and cutting as he's screaming. And we see some glimpses of his arm inside the wound. Other scenes involve brief close-ups of his bloody gunshot wounds, and many examples of wounds that are made on him that quickly heal up (including being impaled by a sword in his bare chest a time or two too). There's a great deal of violence when he is fighting other villains and ninjas, but it's seldom graphic or focused upon. We hear the sound effect of his blades cutting or slashing or impaling, but don't usually see the bloody results. The first couple rough scenes, however, show some Japanese soldiers committing suicide by their own swords. And while we don't see the act of them plunging the swords into their bodies, we hear the graphic, squishy sound effect of the act. Soon after, a massive explosion singes skin and hair off of Logan's body and we see the skin all over his body look pretty gory and scabby before it starts to heal up. At the same time, we see a burn form on a human, mortal man's cheek. There's also a brief dream that Logan has where he looks down and sees his claws in Jean's stomach area, with blood all over her nightgown.
The profanity in the movie isn't nearly as frequent as it was in Origins, but Logan uses the "S" word a few times and clearly uses the "F" word once before the film's finale. Blasphemy was almost nonexistent with one use of "My God," and there was an unusual amount of sexuality in the film for these types of movies. Firstly, Logan dreams of Jean in bed with him several times with her seen just in a nightgown or camisole that displays some cleavage. It's relatively minor, but later Logan finds himself seeking refuge in a hotel that Mariko calls a "love motel" and they're given the option of only three different rooms to stay in. Each room in the hotel is designed to have a theme -- like space or a nurse's office -- for sexual roleplaying. Nothing raunchy is shown, and it's meant to be funny, but it still seemed a little odd to include in the movie. Later, Logan walks in on a man who's only in tiny briefs with two women who are also only in tiny underwear. He then makes the girls leave and proceeds to interrogate the man while he's still just in his underwear. Lastly, there's a scene where Logan and a woman are both wearing robes and she helps retie the sash on his while they talk intimately. It then leads to them passionately kissing and the scene cuts away and comes back to them lying in bed together asleep; he's shirtless, she's in a camisole (Sex is obviously implied).
Needless to say, The Wolverine is very much NOT a family movie, nor is it suitable for children. While, story-wise and when it comes to execution, it's one of the better X-Men entries, it's still very rough and very violent. It's geared toward adult comic book fans (and Wolverine fans) only. It's a movie likely to take those who didn't like Origins and the last X-Men movie (in the first trilogy) by surprise, and is one of the more satisfying summer movie films. And it accomplishes nicely what it set out to do: get viewers pumped for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/26/13)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: We see several dreams that Logan has where Jean is in bed with him, shown in a camisole or nightgown with varying amounts of cleavage; Logan is forced to take a bath and we see two women with brushes scrubbing him while he's in a shallow pool of water. We see part of the top of his bare butt and his bare front from the side briefly (with no explicit nudity); Logan dreams Jean is in bed with him and they start passionately kissing. The image of Jean then turns into Viper and she then disappears; We see Logan without his shirt on quite a bit; Logan finds himself seeking refuge in a hotel that Mariko calls a "love motel" and they're given the option of only three different rooms to stay in. Each room in the hotel is designed to have a theme -- like space or a nurse's office -- for sexual roleplaying. Nothing raunchy is shown, however; Logan and Yukio walk in on a man who's only in tiny briefs with two women who are also only in tiny underwear. He then makes the girls leave and proceeds to interrogate the man while in his underwear. Lastly, there's a scene where Logan and a woman are both wearing robes and she helps retie the sash on his while they talk intimately. It then leads to them passionately kissing and the scene cuts away and comes back to them lying in bed together asleep; he's shirtless, she's in a camisole (Sex is obviously implied).
Vulgarity/Language: 1 "F" word, 4 "S" words, 4 "h*ll," 1 "My G-d," 2 "d*mn," 2 "a" words," 2 "a**h*le," 3 "b*tch"
Alcohol/Drugs: We see people drinking in a bar; Logan is seen with a bottle of liquor in his hands; we see other people drinking in several scenes during the movie
Blood/Gore: We see a burn form on a man's cheek as a fire is surrounding him; Logan has gory burn marks all over his chest and head that we then watch heal up; In a dream, Logan is talking to Jean and he looks down to see his claws in her clothed stomach area. There's lots of blood on her clothes and the bed around her and Logan panics and yells; We see some blood on an arrow Logan pulls out of a grizzly bear; Logan plunges an arrow into a man's hand and we see a great deal of blood around his hand, before and after it's pulled out; Logan is hit in the face with glass and we see a big shard sticking out of his cheek. He then pulls out the shard, with blood around it, and the wound heals up on its own; We see a man lying on a medical table and see the x-ray of his heart as it's beating; Logan is shot in the stomach and we briefly see quite a bit of blood around the wound. He's shot a couple more times and see more blood on his clothes; Logan goes into a bathroom and takes off his shirt to reveal many very bloody wounds on his chest and stomach. We see a pile of blood-soaked paper towels on the sink; We see Logan standing in the rain and some blood washing down a drain near his foot; We see Logan shirtless on a medical table with some bloody wounds and bloody gauze. We also see bloody tweezers clasping bloody bullets that had been removed from his body and see blood on bins on a table nearby; A makeshift surgeon has some bandages on his arm; Mariko's father has a slightly bloody bandage on his forearm; Viper uses her fingernail to cut a man's cheek, leaving a bloody scratch, and breathes on it to cause it to bubble up like an acid wound (she breathes on people a couple times during the movie to cause their skin to bubble up); Logan is shot in the leg and we see some blood on his pants and around the wound; A man who Logan throws through the air has some blood on him and on the ground behind his head where he lays; Noburo has a bloody nose from Logan punching him a couple times; Logan uses his claws to cut open his stomach area while he's shirtless and sticks his hand inside of his body. We see his heart and body in x-ray form up on a monitor during this. He eventually pulls his hand out of his body with blood all over his hand. We see his bloody hand a couple more times. We see a bloody cut on his shoulder heal up and the big gash in his stomach heal up; Yukio has a bloody cut on her forehead; We see many bloody cuts on Wolverine's body form and heal up during a fight. At one point, we see a sword go through his chest, but he breaks it off and pulls it out. He then puts his fist up to a man's throat and we then see his claws appear behind the man's head, impaling his throat, killing him (it's dark, so it's not really gory beyond seeing that his claws went through the man); Viper's skin appears scaly, like a snake and we see her use her fingernail to cut down the front of her face and peel it off, including her full head of hair. We then see a pile of hair and skin, like that of a snake, lying on the ground; While not bloody, we see an adamantium claw sticking out of a man's head and then another be plunged into a man's neck.
Violence: Intense violence: (Some spoilers ahead) With a bomb approaching in WWII, a few Japanese soldiers get on their knees and take off their shirts and unsheathe their swords to commit suicide. We briefly see them drive the swords into themselves just out of the camera frame; We see a huge bomb dropped on Nagasaki and a mushroom cloud form as it devastates the area; Logan holds a sheet of metal over a man as the bomb blast fills the well they're in with flames; We see Jean and Logan in bed talking and he promises not to ever hurt her again. She says it's too late and he looks down and sees his claws in her abdomen (she's wearing a nightgown) and there's blood all over her clothes; Logan slashes trees in the woods to mark his territory; We see some hunters outside a convenience store and hear a gunshot and one of them exclaim that one of them almost shot his foot; We see a trashed camp where Logan then finds a large bear who's slowly dying. The bear has an arrow sticking out of its back, so he kills the bear by plunging his claws into its back and then pulls out the arrow; Logan goes in to town to investigate this bear murder and finds the man who's responsible. He takes one of the darts he found in the man's truck and slams it into the man's hand. He twists it, just off camera, and we hear the man in agony. Someone hits Logan in the face with a bottle and he pulls out a piece of glass from his cheek, which then heals up on its own. He's about to kill them when a girl walks in and stops him. She then demonstrates the power of a sword she brought with her, and slices a bar stool and a man's beer bottle; Logan goes to Japan to visit a dying friend. He sees the man slap his granddaughter in the face; At a funeral, Logan realizes something isn't right and confronts a man who then shoots him in the stomach. Logan realizes he is suddenly mortal and the shooter, and some of his companions, starts attacking the crowd at the funeral. A big fight breaks out with Logan getting shot several times and him slashing and beating up and throwing various thugs. We also see an archer shooting arrows at people throughout the fight and following chase scene; Logan takes off his shirt inside of a train bathroom and we see his bloody wounds; Logan runs into several thugs on the train and they start fighting. Some of them get thrown off the train, and then the fight is taken onto the top of the train where a man stabs Logan and Logan stabs back. Eventually a couple thugs fall from the train to their demise; Logan dreams of the Silver Samurai attacking him at night and he blocks a blow with his claws; Logan collapses from his injuries and wakes up on an operating table after having bullets removed; Viper scrapes Harada's face with her nail and it appears a little bloody. She then breathes on the cut and his face bubbles up with poison. She then breathes on it again to heal it; Some men wrestle a person into a car and Logan tries to stop them. One shoots him in the leg, wounding him, while the tosses another man from the car. Logan then goes over to the man to interrogate him. We hear him drive his claws into the man's body off screen as he interrogates him; Logan roughs up Noburo a bit, punching him in the face a couple times before throwing him out the window. He ends up landing in a pool below; We see silhouettes of ninjas subduing people outside of a house. We also see a woman being dragged away and a man being threatened by Viper. She poisons him and he falls into a pool; Logan uses his claws to cut open his stomach area while he's shirtless and sticks his hand inside of his body. We see his heart and body in x-ray form up on a monitor during this. He eventually pulls his hand out of his body with blood all over his hand. Yukio fights a man who attacks her. She ends up getting knocked out on the floor. We see Logan's wounds heal up and just as he's about to be hit with a sword, he springs up and fights the man. The man slashes him quite a bit with the sword, but his wounds heal up. The man even impales Logan with the sword. Finally, he defeats the man, but he attacks Logan again. Logan then puts his fist up to the man's throat and extends his claws, which briefly go through the man's body, killing him; Logan fights the ninja clan and is then subdued by dozens of arrows with ropes. He wakes up strapped to a chair. We see the Silver Samurai come to life and threaten to destroy him. The chair holding him is destroyed and a fight breaks out; Viper and Yukio fight and Yukio stabs Viper with an arrow. She ends up ripping off her own reptilian skin and fights Yukio. Viper ends up perishing when she is hung by the neck on a rope and struck in the head by a large object; BIG SPOILER: Logan's claws get cut off and a headless Silver Samurai drills into the bone of Logan's hands; A person throws a detatched adamantium claw into a person's head and then finishes that person off by stabbing them in the neck with another claw. And there's additional sci-fi / action violence.
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.