PG-13. These Mr. Knife-Hands movies are obsessed with Mr. Knife-Hands' butt. You see it in every Mr. Knife-Hands movie. Maybe you don't when he's old. I already broke that movie down. But there's a whole lot of violence in this one. Mr. Knife-Hands heals after getting hit by a nuclear bomb. That's not pretty. Also, there's lots of stabby violence. On top of that, Mr. Knife-Hands doesn't heal that well in this one, so the violence somehow seems more intense. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: James Mangold
Ah geez. I'm about to do another post about how I need to slow down. This blog is taking over my life. I'll go deeper about this later. But I should actually give The Wolverine the attention that any other film would get. I would say "That it deserves", but that sounds snippy and I don't think that I'm quite there when it comes to being catty. My biggest takeaway is that this is a much better movie than I remember it being. I also didn't remember that Jean Grey was in it, let alone all the way through this movie. I remembered Japan. I remembered the Silver Samurai. I remember that Days of Future Past completely negated the end of this film and that the consequences didn't matter. But this was like watching a new movie for me. I guess that's not the worst experience in the world.
There's a break between Days of Future Past (and technically Apocalypse) and Logan. By all intents and purposes Logan is the last Wolverine film. I can't argue that there technically is a Wolverine trilogy starting with X-Men Origins and then ending with Logan. But like what Old Man Logan did in the comic books, we understand that the world of Logan may not be canon. Rather, it's just great character stuff and a good story. The Wolverine, God bless it, is doing its best with trying to normalize what had happened in X-Men: The Last Stand. It seemed like so many movies wanted to undo what had happened there and there was probably a temptation to say that we didn't really need an epilogue to the events of a pretty mediocre film. But for the characters, who have to deal with some repercussions, it's kind of important. From Logan's point of view, his whole world collapsed. We're kind of used to characters making touch choices in film. That sacrificial moment becomes less and less impressive because we always have to imagine how a character would adjust to making the difficult decision. It's actually somehow become part of our tapestry. I'm going to evoke Star Wars and Luke. While I never really understood Luke's attachment to Ben Kenobi, I accept it. He treated him like a surrogate father and that's very much woven into Ben Kenobi's sacrifice. He has that sad moment on the Millennium Falcon, but it's back to action immediately. In Empire, he sees Ben's ghost and that should completely mess him up. Instead, the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi is a plot point. I'm not crapping on Star Wars and lifting up Empire. It's because Star Wars is part of foundation of the trope of sacrifice that we're allowed to notice these things. Also, the tone of Star Wars is miles away from that of Logan. But I love that The Wolverine rests firmly on the notion that a sequel should have that character deal with the fallout.
Seeing Wolverine the savage / pacifist makes a lot of the film. The reluctant killer is something new that we have to deal with this character that makes him complex. I know that Origins kind of tried to deal with that same notion. But again, we don't really give Origins a lot of points for anything. Instead, The Wolverine is really an internal story. Before Logan, it might be the most character building movie in the X-Men franchise. This is what kind of bums me out about the third act of the film. The first two acts are really sparse on the action sequences (especially act one). Act two has Wolverine fighting some great fights, but he's definitely out of his element for those fights. The character isn't being the Mary Sue character that we've grown to know over the course of the franchise. He seems scared and reluctant to give his all. I think I probably had the same issue with Logan. Don't get me wrong, I adored Logan. If I wasn't so sleepy and overwhelmed, I would give Logan another go. But The Wolverine and Logan are both movies that focus on the character more than the action. I know I'm probably speaking for myself, but that's way more interesting than any action set piece you can come up with. I know. He's a comic book character. I just always viewed that argument as flippant. It doesn't matter what his medium is or what kind of stories we're used to. If there's something good to explore, the movie should explore it. Both The Wolverine and Logan take a story that is fundamentally about a character changing and healing and end the film with a big CGI mega-fight. Logan has the benefit of at least ending with the character fighting a giant metaphor, who he was. Okay. But the Silver Samurai fight doesn't really play with the idea of aging and coming to grips with one's past.
Having Silver Samurai be the man that he saved is a really weird message. I mean, it's the only way you really could end the movie. It has to all tie in together. But is the message that Wolverine's kindness and heroism has only brought people misery. That kind of contradicts everything else that the movie has hinted at. Yashida tells Logan over and over again eternity is a curse for some. By having Yashida actually prove to be the bad guy, isn't he right for the entire film? I know that Wolverine considers his long life to be a curse, but Yashida makes a really convincing point if realizing that, if he hadn't saved his life, nothing bad would have happened in this film. All of the people who died and all of the misery of the film wouldn't have happened if Wolverine's gifts weren't a curse. It's a really weird way to end the movie. Wolverine as a pacifist is really more interesting than him as a killing machine. That's actually what "Old Man Logan" by Mark Millar was all about. It was about a guy who refused to pop the claws. No matter how bad it got, he had a line that he wouldn't cross. Instead, the third act is wildly generic. I don't care how flashy it gets; it really just makes me want to yawn throughout it. We have Viper, possibly the least interesting and least developed X-Man villain we've run across. I leave the film knowing so little about her that I don't care what she's about. Also, the Silver Samurai is just kind of teased before Wolverine fights him. There's no real villain. It's Logan against an institution like the yakuza. Why would it be a supervillain battle? And then the movie ends with this big moment: Wolverine loses his adamantium claws. But considering that The Wolverine is about dealing with fallout, the movie itself creates fallout that we as audience members really never have to deal with. It's kind of a crime. I get it. Magneto probably just gave him his claws back.
And Professor X is back? I know. At the end of The Last Stand, it was teased that he had returned. But he looks like Professor X. This movie is supposed to be about dealing with consequences and grieving. It is about regret, yet it doesn't seem that Professor X has had any regrets. He actually broke his own moral code and has moved on with it all. We develop all of these relationships within The Wolverine, yet none of them really follow Logan outside of this film. What about Yukio (who is not the same Yukio as Deadpool 2. Apparently, two people having the same name is a thing that really happens)? Mariko is such an important part of the Logan story and I adore that we're kind of exploring the stuff that Frank Miller and Chris Claremont did in their initial mini-series. But this stuff should matter. I kind of want the film ending with Wolverine deciding to live in Japan. As gutsy as it seems to have Wolverine lose his adamantium, the movie does a painful amount of lifting to return him to the status quo. Why? I just watched Far From Home and the movie soars because it refuses to allow a status quo to happen. Maybe that's my big frustration with the X-Men movies. There's always an attempt to return to the status quo. Remember in The Last Stand where the film shows Ian McKellan pushing the chess piece with his mind? I enjoyed The Wolverine, but it is a really painful reminder that nothing ever changes in this franchise. Everything has to go back to the way it was. I want damage. I want growth and evolution. Yeah, Wolverine remembers Nagasaki. That's really interesting. But it doesn't change who he is. Let characters stay broken or build them in new ways. I don't want to see another Wolverine the way he was before. I don't need to see him fight big bosses. I want him to fight himself.
The Wolverine is a big step in the right direction for the movie, but it ends so so so poorly considering that it does so much work to not be another X-Men movie. Part of this screams 20th Century Fox, but I also think that it is an audience thing. People don't want a ton of introspection in their action films. At least, they don't think that they do. We simply expect for the last act to be bombastic, so they always have to be. It's silly, but it is what it is.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.