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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Hugh Jackman
Famke Janssen
Will Yun Lee
Svetlana Khodchenkova
Rila Fukushima
Tao Okamoto
Hiroyuki Sanada.
Directors
James Mangold.
Screenwriters
Christopher McQuarrie
Scott Frank
Mark Bomback.
Running Time
126 minutes

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The Wolverine
Mutants. Ninjas. No turtles


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Plot
Haunted by the death of Jean Grey, former X-man Logan (Jackman) is now a loner, foraging in the woods. But he’s tracked down and brought to Japan by a billionaire who’s keen to repay a life debt by stripping The Wolverine of his immortality. But it isn’t going to be that easy...


Review
The Wolverine
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In a summer packed with movies that work their way up to levelling entire cities, The Wolverine takes an interesting tack: that’s how it starts. Within the first three minutes, Nagasaki has been obliterated in a mushroom cloud, courtesy of a B-29 bomber and the nuclear bomb known as Fat Man that effectively signalled the end of World War II.

In the middle of the mayhem, we find Hugh Jackman’s Logan — aka The Wolverine — chained up and shirtless (of course; those playing the ‘Shirtless Jackman’ drinking game will be blootered by the second act) in the middle of a POW camp. As sirens blare and Japanese officers commit hara-kiri with honour, Logan is saved by, and then saves, an officer with a stricken conscience.

It’s an audacious opening that some might find in dubious taste, but there are enough grace notes here — the opening shot of the B-29 approaching its target is serenely beautiful — to suggest this will be light years ahead of the lamentable X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And so it proves, even if it never hits the heights of the first two X-Men movies or X-Men: First Class.

After that grand opening, things scale back as we meet the Canadian mutant living rough on his home turf as, effectively, Grizzly X-Man, Les Mis hair and beard in place, plagued by visions of his lost love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, lounging in a négligée through interminable dream sequences) and as haunted by the events of X-Men: The Last Stand as anyone who saw it. He’s a wounded bear who even encounters an actual wounded bear, just to pound home the metaphor. Logan has vowed never to hurt anyone again, a vow he breaks within roughly 37 seconds, but before he can kill some idiots in a bar, he’s tracked down by the slinky Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a flame-haired employee of the man he saved in World War II, and brought to Japan, where he becomes embroiled in a convoluted plot involving the yakuza, indestructible samurai and a new lady-love in the beautiful Mariko (Tao Okamoto) who, in a nice twist, sees Logan and his claws as something to love, not fear.

And it’s in its Japanese roots that The Wolverine becomes most intriguing. Comic book fans will know that Wolverine and the Land of the Rising Sun go together like Nic Cage and Pachinko, and it’s refreshing that, Canada section aside, it takes place entirely in Japan. That alone is enough to make it look and feel unlike any other superhero movie to date, director James Mangold capturing a real sense of place as he frames Logan against Tokyo streets or in rural ryokans.

Sadly, the embrace of Japanese culture feels often skin-deep, a superficial whisk through a checklist of clichés. There’s an (admittedly very funny) awkward visit to a love hotel with Mariko as they go on the run; Logan struggles to come to grips with chopsticks like a gaijin fool; and he keeps being told he’s a ronin, a samurai without a master. Yet there’s no sense his experiences have much of an impact — by the end he’s as authentically Japanese as YO! Sushi. Just a shame he doesn’t show up at a karaoke bar — we reckon Logan has serious pipes.

One of the — many — criticisms of Wolverine’s last solo outing was that it never had the courage to trust in the appeal of its lead character, instead chucking in large numbers of rubbish mutants. The lesson has been learned here, with minimal muties (Svetlana Khodchenkova shows up as the venomous Viper, regrettably too reminiscent of Batman & Robin’s Poison Ivy). Instead, Logan bloodlessly slices his way through armies of yakuza and ninjas, in keeping with the film’s determinedly (open air quotes) realistic (close air quotes) tone.

It’s all the better for it, from a free-for-all that puts the fun in funeral to the movie’s highpoint, a creative showdown on top of a speeding Shinkansen. And, if you have any qualms about pitting a highly trained, invulnerable mutant against scores of rent-a-piñata henchmen, Mangold and Jackman level the playing field slightly by going full Superman II and depriving Logan of his powers. With his healing factor and animalistic senses on hold, Logan develops an aversion to shotgun blasts that slows him down considerably, and gives Jackman something interesting to play with sixth time around. That element is far more absorbing than his endless moping after Jean — some psychos don’t need analysis.

It’s regrettable, then, that in a film concerned with immortality, nothing lasts forever. The final showdown, tonally and in terms of scale, is deeply unsatisfying, with ludicrous reveals, bad CG and plot turns so convoluted they threaten to derail the movie at 300 mph.
 


Verdict
An improvement on the last outing for Jackman’s not-so-merry mutant. If only it trusted enough in its unique setting to forgo a descent into aggressively awful formula.


Reviewed by Chris Hewitt

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Wolverine
Empire Star Rating

Hmm

I think people have been very generous with their reviews on here. maybe because they feel sorry for the loveable Jackman! Fact of the matter is, this film was terrible! It is better than the last instalment but that really isn't saying anything at all. Its always a bad sign if you get bored during an action movie and I found myself to be bored almost the whole way through. The acting isn't up to much either. Sorry but I thought this was just awful! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 18:24, 02 February 2014 | Report This Post


Annoying

Slow. Plot too basic. Fight scenes underwhelming. Adamantium badly handled. The ending was the final nail in the coffin leaving me just annoyed. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 10:50, 07 December 2013 | Report This Post


Wrong wolverine Review

Wolverine Origins wasnt perfect, but no way is this better. That should be 3 stars and this one two. Both have very average CG and - but at least in origins there was more heart and soul from Jackman as our favourite grumpy anti-hero. I need a little more depth than the odd swear word. There was a better villan in Stryker and Liev Scheiber as Sabretooth is worth a star on its own. This movie is beautifully done and Japan is a great locaton and the toned down feel of this film is welcome, but th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Samurai7 at 12:53, 20 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

I thought this film was put together beautifully. Breaking down a mutant to their humane form to expose physical vulnerability obviously worked in the previous X Men movie so finding a way to take a spinoff of that and incorporate it into this one was a smart business tactic. That aside, I enjoyed the storyline, action, and character interactions. It'll be hard for me to ever picture another actor than Hugh Jackman to play the Wolverine. ... More

Posted by StevenKThomas at 23:33, 26 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

I'm sure he'll get his claws back for DoFP; they're a large part of his character, and his being compromised without them has already been used twice. s - Highlight to read:#F1F1F1]What concerned me more was that the caption says '2 years later'. So whatever adventures he had with Yukio after the jet took off, happened with the most ineffective weapons he could use. What can I tell you? Not a fan of bone-claws. endeth the spoilage. ... More

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 22:46, 25 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

This movie, did what it wanted to do, to make this movie all about 'The Wolverine', and they succeeded. Unlike X men Origins, where they had so many mutants that it was hard to focus on wolverine, The Wolverine had like 4 mutants including Logan, so all the attention was on him and they really developed his character, showed the lighter side to him, which brings me to my next point. Hugh Jackman was so pissed of in this movie and I loved that so much accept the bit when it kind of feels l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by konrad6 at 21:30, 25 August 2013 | Report This Post


JACKMAN OWNS IT......

Quite a bit better than Origins. This is a solidly put together little thriller which doesn’t feel or play like a summer tent pole movie. The tone is pretty much straight down the middle with Jackman bringing yet more subtle shades of black humour and berserker rage to his most famous signature role. The opening sequence is a blast – quite literally – and all the scenes in Japan have a nice authenticity about them despite the myriad villainous yakuza stereotypes. Unfortunately,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:24, 15 August 2013 | Report This Post


JACKMAN OWNS IT......

Quite a bit better than Origins. This is a solidly put together little thriller which doesn’t feel or play like a summer tent pole movie. The tone is pretty much straight down the middle with Jackman bringing yet more subtle shades of black humour and berserker rage to his most famous signature role. The opening sequence is a blast – quite literally – and all the scenes in Japan have a nice authenticity about them despite the myriad villainous yakuza stereotypes. Unfortunately,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 16:24, 15 August 2013 | Report This Post


Logan's Done

Whether it was just me or fundamentally that I had been exposed to some of the negative hype surrounding this movie... But I was not impressed by this film. Yes there are indeed some keen sequences in this film, such as the high speed train sequence (this is as good as it gets and that's 1/3rd of the way in.) There are far too many predictable moments which are annoyingly given to us via the trailer, allowing many viewers to see what is coming before it even happens. I get that he is a mutant bu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Limeylove at 23:07, 11 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: An Improvement on the first Wolverine film

I enjoyed this. It wasn't amazing but it was a solid and fun at times action film. ... More

Posted by galvatron at 14:03, 08 August 2013 | Report This Post


An Improvement on the first Wolverine film

Here is my video review http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYo06t5al84 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by StepOverSteve at 21:37, 07 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: DELIVERS the GOODS!!!

I don't know much about Viper. I thought she was one of the worst elements of film and should have been handled a lot better, as her by-the-numbers comic book villainy was seriously at odds with how grounded the rest of the film was. Though she's certainly better than Deadpool was. Anyway... I think if she had green hair, I'd have more closely associated her with Abigail Brand - who should really make an appearance in an X-Men film at some point. ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 12:39, 06 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: DELIVERS the GOODS!!!

Even though I enjoyed it a great deal still think they could've gone a lot more darker BUT! spose they probably didn't want a 15 cert here's hoping we may get a Directors Cut when it comes to B.R/DVD? thing that really bugged me was Viper not having Green Hair (Not much in the grand schemes I know) ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 12:31, 06 August 2013 | Report This Post


DELIVERS the GOODS!!!

A Solid instalment in the Marvel Franchise!! So it's back to basics with Wolverine for this outing and it's more better for it. After an epic prologue in an Japanese POW camp, we start with Logan in a small town Canadian retreat, Before you know it he's claws ready for the kill in a bar brawl and the then the mysterious and colourful Yukio played by Tao Okamato turns up with a sudden proposition,.... So it's off to Japan with Logan and his sidekick ninja chick get caught up in a we... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 19:36, 05 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

L: ChudMonkey Another disappointing addition to the X-Men franchise. Not as bad as Last Stand or Origins but certainly not hitting the peaks of First Class and X2. I just feel like they said all they can say about Jackman's version of Wolverine and I'd happily not have him in another X-film for quite some time (I really hope he isn't the main character in DOFP). The pacing, dialogue, tone and acting was all over the place and the set pieces / action scenes just didn't have any impact. The... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 11:38, 05 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

Another disappointing addition to the X-Men franchise. Not as bad as Last Stand or Origins but certainly not hitting the peaks of First Class and X2. I just feel like they said all they can say about Jackman's version of Wolverine and I'd happily not have him in another X-film for quite some time (I really hope he isn't the main character in DOFP). The pacing, dialogue, tone and acting was all over the place and the set pieces / action scenes just didn't have any impact. There were some nice mo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ChudMonkey at 11:35, 05 August 2013 | Report This Post


better than expected

I was expecting this film to be as bad as his last solo outing, but it wasn't it was a pretty decent popcorn film for a rainy Friday evening. I agree that he didn't feel to get emotionally attached to Japan as he should have but there were two uncounted for by the end of the film - maybe he stayed? I also as a comic fan have to stress and anger at changing another famous Marvel villain, Yes Viper is not a mutant she is the head of HYDRA, but that aside I don't have any other major concerns about... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gazzabrook at 10:28, 03 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

I enjoyed it and to be honest i don't ask for anything more in a film. There are some big flaws to it (see the rubbish finale and the awful cinematography for some of the action films with close up confusion and shaky cam headaches). Jackman presents a nice charismatic performance, the other actors all perform well and the first three quarters in particular was very enjoyable and well made. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 16:23, 02 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

I liked it. It's probably my favourite film of the (disappointing) summer. Lower expectations and all that. Stupid finale though. ... More

Posted by jcthefirst at 13:46, 02 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

L: SWOTBM Also, the woman who plays Mariko is so fricking hot it is untrue. She must be a model or something ote] Both Tao Okamoto who plays Mariko and Rila Fukushima who plays Yukio are indeed models. ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 15:07, 01 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

Logan, aka Wolverine, saves an army officer called Yashida during the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Fast forward to the present day, and Logan has retreated to the Canadian wilderness following the death of his love Jean Grey, whom he was forced to kill, and the disbanding of the X-Men. He is located by Yukio, a woman with mutant powers enabling her to see people’s deaths, representing Yashida, now the CEO of a technology corporation. He is dying of cancer, and wants Logan to accompa... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 08:29, 01 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I watched Origins for the first time last night in preparation for this film and it was god awful (Origins that is). Having said that, the change of setting made a world of difference for me (from a personal perspective, I have lived in Japan for a while and the film did make me want to go back there again). I was glad they didn't include a whole bunch of other mutants in this film and just made it about Logan. Re the dreams- I thought he was b... More

Posted by SWOTBM at 00:30, 31 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: A different kind of superhero movie.

L: Cool Breeze Thought this was ok but nothing particularly special. I understand that this was designed to be a relatively scaled back superhero film compared to the other X films but i found this to be fairly boring at times.Like porntrooper said, there were a ton of scenes that seem to revolve around Logan in bed waking up dazed and being fed seemingly endless amounts of exposition. The action scenes when they do come are pretty good and Yukio was a terrific sidekick for L... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 16:36, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

This is much much better than the last Wolverine movie, but at the same time perhaps the most disposable - very few mutants, a standalone plot etc Surprised it got a 12A! ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 16:35, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Wolverine

I enjoyed this. That is all. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 14:55, 30 July 2013 | Report This Post


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