Movie Review: The Wolverine
The Wolverine (In theaters 7/26/13)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.*
Starring Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima
Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line)
*Todd’s note on the rating: This film is extremely violent because so much of the action is hand-to-hand combat. Between Wolverine’s claws and the ninja’s swords, we see a lot of death and carnage. There is also at least 1 F-word, 1 cut off F-word, 4 uses of the S-word, and about a dozen other mild profanities.
Because of the other X-men films, I walked into the theater with X-tra high expectations.
Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.
First of all, I need to admit I never read the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Marvel miniseries from the 1980s. Perhaps if I had, I would have been able to fully appreciate this film.
That being said, let’s begin the discussion with Hugh Jackman. After all, The Wolverine marks the sixth time the actor has played the surly superhero (yes, six; don’t forget his brief but salty cameo in X-Men: First Class), a streak that’s even more impressive since most actors tap out after two or three appearances. Not to mention that Jackman hardly needs this role — his resume is pretty impressive including the big budget Real Steel and an Oscar nomination for Les Miserables. I believe he loves the character and wants to do right by it. Unfortunately, I also believe that without the rest (or at least some) of the X-men, it’s just not cutting it.
Often times, the Superhero movie is judged as much by the villains as by the heroes. And this is where I was most disappointed. From the Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) to the Silver Samurai to various ninjas, the bad guys are boring and underdeveloped. And the disappointment doesn’t end here; the late Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) appears in Logan’s dreams to offer him life lectures … like a boring nightmare that I can’t wake up from. These scenes really slow down the film, and it seems rather pointless to include her character at all.
On the other hand, two of my favorite scenes included the opening scene with Logan saving Yashida’s life during the bombing of Hiroshima and the battle on the bullet train. These two scenes show us the dichotomy of who Wolverine is. In the opening scene we see his compassion, honor and sacrifice. And during the fight scene on the bullet train, we see his intensity, strength and viciousness.
Although this wasn’t my favorite superhero film, the Wolverine is still one of my favorite characters and I can’t wait to see the upcoming X-men film. Speaking of which, make sure you stay in your seat to see the post credit scene with Wolverine and two very familiar faces.
So what can we take away from “The Wolverine”?
According to Hugh Jackman, a major theme in the film is Wolverine being surrounded by death while being unable to die due to his healing factor. He recently said, “He realizes everyone he loves dies, and his whole life is full of pain. So it’s better that he just escapes. He can’t die really. He just wants to get away from everything.”
Conversely, we’re not immortal. In fact, James 4:14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”
According to this verse our lives are very short and not only should we live our lives with purpose, but we should also prepare for the afterlife.
So what are you doing to really live your life?
How have you prepared for eternity?