‘The Wolverine’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:19 am,

The Wolverine HBO First Look and Logan Featurette The Wolverine Review

The Wolverine ranks among the better X-Men movies – along with Bryan Singer’s first two installments and Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class.

The Wolverine picks up with the semi-immortal mutant Logan (Hugh Jackman) looking particularly disheveled, after having spent an unspecified amount of time in self-imposed exile in the Canadian wilderness (following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand). Logan, who is tormented by the survivor’s guilt he’s accumulated over the centuries – having outlived every person he’s cared for – and haunted by recurring visions of his deceased love Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), has abandoned his Wolverine (re: superhero) alter-ego for an isolated existence.

Everything changes when Logan is approached by a mysterious pink-haired woman named Yukio (Rila Fukushima). She informs Wolvie that her employer Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) – the extremely wealthy founder of a powerful Japanese technology corporation – is on his deathbed and wishes to thank Logan, who saved his life way back in WWII. Logan is hesitant, but  soon agrees to accompany Yukio back to Tokyo, in order to to bid farewell to his old acquaintance – unaware that he’s taken the first step on a treacherous journey that will take him into the sordid underbelly of Japanese society, and leave him permanently altered in a mental, spiritual and physical sense.

The Wolverine is (mostly) a thematically-rich X-Men story that was realized under the direction of James Mangold, a filmmaker who has spent his career bouncing around from genre to genre (see: Girl, Interrupted, 3:10 to Yuma, Knight and Day, etc.). Mangold commits to exploring the depths of Logan’s emotional baggage while he and his collaborators infuse the proceedings with a strong appreciation for – and understanding of – cinema history and tradition. The final result: The Wolverine feels refreshingly different than just about every other superhero movie produced to date… for the first 3/4ths of its running time, anyway.

wolverine logan yukio The Wolverine Review

Yukio and Logan in ‘The Wolverine’

Many people who were eager to see a unique superhero/comic book adaptation felt their hopes shatter after the original version of The Wolverine – planned by director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) – collapsed in pre-production. There are times (read: the third act) when The Wolverine suffers from muddled storytelling and uninspired spectacle – the same problems that are present throughout the infamous prequel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Still, the majority of Mangold’s film ended up being (surprisingly) close to what McQuarrie had in mind: a thoughtful character study of the eponymous Adamantium-claw wielding mutant, with the occasional action sequence included here and there (for good measure).

Jackman, as Logan, appears to be in the best physical condition of his career here; furthermore, this film offers the most captivating portrayal of the character put on the big screen yet (how true he is to the X-Men comic books’ depiction – that’s open for debate). Under Mangold’s watch, Jackman successfully makes Wolverine feel like the superhero equivalent of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name (from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns): a “ronin” or samurai who is without a purpose, as one of the characters observes early on. There are parts of the score composed by Marco Beltrami (3:10 to Yuma, The Hurt Locker) that recall Ennio Morricone’s music for Leone films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which helps to hammer that idea home and strengthen the film’s East-meets-West subtext in the process.

wolverine logan mariko1 The Wolverine Review

Mariko and Logan in ‘The Wolverine’

Above all else, though, The Wolverine is informed by Noir traditions, beginning with the opening flashback to WWII (i.e. the event credited for inspiring the American Noir movement). Mangold and the film’s cinematographer, Ross Emery (a second-unit director of photography on Dark City and The Matrix trilogy) do a solid job of making Japan feel like the setting for an old-school detective story: shadowy and menacing at night, deceivingly harmless by day. Similarly, Logan is a proper choice for the Noir archetype of an investigating protagonist: he’s emotionally-fragile and vulnerable one moment, and in the next he throws a bad man out a window without even blinking an eye.

Action scenes in The Wolverine are relatively few and far between – which is good, because they have a tendency to be the film’s weakest moments. A major theme in the film is the brutal nature of death and violence, but that only comes across in the movie’s best – and bloodiest – fight sequence. The other combat-heavy beats are too choppy in their structure, save for the much-advertised fight atop a bullet train (which is entertaining, but kind of extraneous to the plot). Likewise, a healthy chunk of the final half-hour (including the climax) includes some hollow CGI-heavy fisticuffs and a ninja battle that is cut-short. The Wolverine feels likes an R-Rated movie edited down to PG-13, and that compromise undercuts some of its successes.

Hugh Jackman fights on a train as Logan in The Wolverine The Wolverine Review

Logan atop a bullet train in ‘The Wolverine’

There are many supporting characters in The Wolverine, but a handful of them are either half-baked or unnecessary additions to the plot. Yukio, for example, is the interesting and well-rounded “sidekick” for Wolvie, while Mariko (Tao Okamoto) – Yashida’s grand-daughter – is in part a damsel-in-distress, but her own personal conflict and capabilities help to elevate the character above that basic archetype. Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada and Will Yun Lee all play morally-questionable or corrupt individuals, who populate the neo-Noir setting. None of their characters are all that memorable, but each one serves a purpose in advancing the story.

Too bad the same cannot be said for the mutant Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), a femme fatale whose role in the plot needed a rewrite – since her presence raises more questions than it answers (especially when you examine the film’s plot mechanics more closely). One look at the individual resume for each of the film’s credited writers – Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard, Total Recall (2012)) and Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Minority Report) – and you start to suspect that maybe one of them was more responsible than the other – as far as inserting empty action scenes and too many characters into the narrative is concerned.

Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper and Hugh Jackman as Logan in The Wolverine The Wolverine Review

The villainous mutant Viper

Fortunately, Mangold keeps things running smoothly – until the last half-hour – and, in the end, accomplishes what he wanted: to do right by the great Wolverine comic book mini-series written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller. As such, The Wolverine ranks among the better X-Men movies – along with Bryan Singer’s first two installments and Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class – even though its artistic compromises prevent it from reaching greatness.

One last note: The Wolverine features post-converted 3D that adds little to the film and makes the dark scenery even murkier, so those who are picky about the premium ticket prices are advised to go for a 2D screening. Also, be sure to stay after the end titles begin – there is indeed a mid-credits scene that’s worth waiting around for.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Wolverine episode of the SR Underground podcast.

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The Wolverine is 126 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. Comparing The Wolverine with Last Samurai is like comparing Batman with BBC Human Planet bats episode.
    Really guys? The Last Samurai?
    I agree that Viper was unused, but this movie was about the Silver Samurai, so..
    I also agree with the guys here that think this one is one of the best X-Men series movie.
    Gave it 8.5/10. And well deserved.

    • Last Samurai was a fantastic film and one of the best movies of 2003.





    • Yes, because Disney keeps it 100% by the source material and doing great…

      • This. I dare say that this movie is much closer to the source material than Iron Man 3, and by the way Avengers 2 is starting to sound (Ultron without Hank Pym), I daresay that we have yet to see just how “EFFED UP” the MCU will become under Disney.

        Just enjoy movies people, and realize that this isn’t 616.

        • TBH it always kinda bothered me that Hank (a biologist/chemist) created Ultron in the comics, it makes far more sense that it be created by Tony as he is the “robotics guy” imho

    • IT SUCKS… honestly expected more, lacks storytelling, Wolverine still awesome, but characters or story arc is not built… How come she’s in love with Gray Jane when she barely hanged with her in the X-men movies, then she remembers Kayla, and at the same time hitting on a japanese chick with no essence. Yukio seemed more interesting but had very little screen time. I really expected waaaay more… I’M SAD. Very very sad for this movie. SO SAD.

      • She? Gray Jane? She? Kayla?….What?

        The Wolverine is infinity better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but after that film how could you have such high hopes?

        You’re confusing.

        • infinitely*


  3. Tell the Viper I’ll be her snake charmer.

  4. Just got back from seeing this movie & to start, I appreciate the fact everyone has different takes & opinions on movies & never get offended if someone does not share a similar view as mine. We all love movies, just different ones-simple enough. That being said, I’m in the minority of viewers who thought it was boring. I didn’t hate it but def thought it could have been better. Viper was the best part for me & that’s only cuz she was hot lol o, & loved seeing the redhead kick butt! Still can’t wait for the next xmen movie though! :)

    • Viper was more wooden than January Jones in X-Men: First Class. Overacting (if you want to call it acting at all) and hamming it up. Other than her being horribly miscast and the Silver Samurai goof fest in the last 20 min I thought it was pretty good, leaps and bounds better than X-Men Origins: Hey It’s Gambit and Deadpool for No Reason Wolverine!!

  5. Who else was thrown by silver samurai not being a mutant?? Wtf fox

    • Positive thinking.
      At least he can cut adamantium.

    • What do you mean the Mandarin advertised is a joke that did not entirely pay off to a bigger Mandarin revelation?

      What the hell Disney Marvel Studios?

      • Disney didn’t make this movie, why are you comparing it to the Mandarin?

    • There IS a spoiler discussion thread. This is not it. Careful what you say.

  6. I’m sorry, how is Mariko “nothing more, nothing less” a passable damsel in distress? Considering how she saved Logan’s ass at the end? Not to mention how the character had her own individual conflict about family (an important x-men theme). She’s shown to be proficient with knives and could fight -but most people are not mutants or highly trained fighters, so you can’t expect her to fend off multiple mobster attackers. The Wolverine was not perfect -but to say Mariko did nothing but be a damsel in distress is to ignore important chunks of the movie.

    • That’s a fair point, and one that I agree with. I’ve amended that part of the review to reflect as much.

    • I agree that Mariko was not a damsel in distress. In fact, she seems more well rounded than her comic book counterpart. She doesn’t even want Logan’s help in the beginning and there are instances where she fights back


    This is all I have to say I liked the film up till the end when they toyed around with The Silver Samurai like they did with Dead pool, Juggernaught, and Blob. Kind of what Ironman 3 did with Mandarin. you cannot take these characters and just completely change them that is when Fans stop watching and promoting the films. Silver Samurai was not even a Mutant or even the same Character WTF, up till that I loved it. gave it a four star.

    • They never actually called it the Silver Samurai…

      Agree with the 4 star rating, though.

      • They mentioned that the suit of armour that was supposedly going to guard Yashida’s grave was the ‘Silver Samurai’ and unless I’m mistaken that was the armour Yashida’s son wore to fight Wolverine.

        I think the difference between The Wolverine’s Silver Samurai and Iron Man 3′s Mandarin is The Wolverine’s marketing and overall story had very very little to do with the Silver Samurai, where as Iron Man 3′s trailers, teasers, clips and posters had a heavey Mandarin presence that was not completely different from what we were given in the final product.

        • heavy*
          WAS completely different*

          Jesus, I can’t type anything properly today.

  8. I wanted to see the Silver Samurai an actual mutant twist threw the air teleporting, and cutting $#!t in halve, but we got Iron Samurai? really Fox stop drastically changing characters. would have rather seen the guy be John sublime at least he wanted what Iron Samurai wanted.

    • People would have said it was Deadpool all over again…lol. Who is really invested in Silver Samurai that much??? Not I and Ive been reading X-Men comics for well over 20 years.

      • I agree. When you think about X-men characters and villains, no one really goes, OH Silver Samurai! I’m fine with them messing around with him since he’s not really much of a major player.

  9. Andy s They did when the Mariko said the Silver Samurai will always guard her grandfather.

  10. i give it a good 4/5 loved how this was a stand alone wolvy movie. This was def way more improved then origins

  11. I came into this movie with low expectations. But after watching this I must say that i thought this one was pretty good. Now I’m just waiting for Kick Ass 2! :)

  12. Until they get a better type of director and an R rating to go alongside it, these films will all b nothing more than a C-G action film tha “coulda’ been”…..they have wasted the opportunity time and again to make these films what they should be. Hackman won’t be able to do these forever, and he’s the only reason anybody goes to see these flicks. Fox has wasted hundreds of millions surrounding the best man for the job with the shittiest people imminaginable for these projects. The people with the final say on these films are to blame. If they cut their budgets by removing all this c-g crap they could afford to take the hit at the box office with an R rating and thereby creating an actual Wolverine action film. I’d rather watch Spider-Man 3 20 time before viewing THe Wolverine again…….it’s more superficial formulaic action movie film making. They’ve taken a character who’s m.o. Is VIOLENCE, and shrunk it down to fit for viewing by 8-12 year olds….. thank again for not disappointing FOX

    • Unfortunately, with all these marketing gurus and studio heads running things, you’ll never see a R rated Marvel movie (or Batman movie). They want to sell action figures and happy meals, so no blood or sex.
      Instead, we get ridiculous scenes of Matthew Modine apparently dead (or sleeping) near the end of TDKR or cutaways whenever Wolverine impales someone

  13. Thought it was sub-par at best. Gave it a 3.

  14. If the Samurai was not as big and more of a normal size would people still have a problem with it? I thought overall the movie was very good and a big improvement over Origins. Nothing will be perfect as Hollywood has proven but this was still very good.

    • they would have bitched…there was nothing special with a regular (comic inspired) Silver Samurai for the scope & depth of a movie like this. Hell Silver Samurai was one of Wolverines weaker foes in the comics.

  15. Kind of disappointed with this one. Part one was better. The movie dragged on and I would say that the last half hour was probably the best part. The second best being the mid-credits scene. I even lowered my standards with this one and could not find myself rating the movie higher than a 3.

    Hope the next installment is more promising.

  16. I am so tired of the entire X-Men Cinematic Universe. It’s ridiculously frayed. It’s all over the place and I just want to see it given back to Disney, who is obviously able to keep a constant continuity. The X-Men universe is just too much. It’s not all leading up to a climax or anything. Disney keeps the singular story building throughout all of their films, which keeps the audience engaged. However, there’s nothing in an X-Men film that makes me want more out of the next.

    • I think that actually takes away from the movies. All of those films seem like they’re only building up to an Avengers movie, especially the Thor and Captain America movies. They’re so worried about making it lead to the Avengers that they were held back from writing a better screenplay for them.

  17. I wonder if Wolverine will get his adamantium claws back in the DOFP? They are better than just bone claws.

    • He got his metal claws one time on the comics. Apocalypse, is the person who give Wolvie his f*ckin shinin metal claws.
      I don’t know if Apocalypse is in DOFP but with that thing of time travel and dystopian futures we can hope to see that adamantium WTF claws.

      • He got the adamantium twice. Once, during the original Weapon X procedure and a second time, when Apocalypse restored it (after he lost it in a fight with Magneto)

  18. i dont understand how can they cut off his claws that really made me angry and silver samuri was not a mutant wtf?! how can htey cut off his claws and keep him being wolverine its like taking supermans power to be invulnerable and speed and strenth but saying you can still fly. it was sad and uscked im vnot happy with it that was no epic battle

    • I think your Mistaken…Wolverines Claws have always been an added bonus…but they have never in my opinion defined his character. There were more then a few times where he was left without the use of his claws & he had to find other ways to adapt to his surroundings. Logan has always been a survivor and his heart & sheer will power are things that Ive always loved about him…claws or no.

  19. I really liked this movie…for me its up there with XFC. I agree with most of everyone that the movie dragged at about the 3/4th mark. this is far superior to Wolverine Origins & I dont think its fair to rate it against the X-Men Movies…I loved Wolverines journey to Japan (in the comics & in this movie).

    I did like the take on Silver Samurai, I may be in the minority but I cant think of another way they could have made him more imposing or threatening? (props to his glowing sword). They could have been lazy & just kept him as a robot but instead they put yashida inside(which was unexpected & kinda cool).

    The bone claws were awesome (albeit confusing) Im guessing that his natural bone claws would grow back despite the adamantium claws being cut off.

    and its just a small gripe but I was confused why Logan would walk right into a ninja haven with no backup or stealth. It would have been awesome to Get Wolverine in a ninja costume or the X-Factor all black modified version of his (comic) uniform….that for me would have been the icing on the cake….Wolverine full circle, and people shouldent say it cant be done because look at MOS & Chris Nolans Batman trilogy…but alas it was just a dream.

  20. There will always be flaws in these comic movies. You can either accept that or just stop watching them altogether. I take them with a grain of salt and just try to enjoy the ride. Even Disney has had a few flaws in their comic movies. I still think this was a very good movie despite a few flaws.

    • Yup no way everybody’s gonna get pleased.

  21. I thought the flick was better than all the X movies combined. Having said that, I hate that they totally ruined the Silver Samurai and Viper..um, her character could have been any random female scientist.

    The train action looked to be an attempt to try something different/new. I give them a thumbs up for the effort.

    My wife asked me why they just couldn’t get the healing factor from his blood? I didn’t have an answer.

    Not a must see, but most def worth checking out if you plan to hit the big screens anyway.

    Now I’m just waiting on Kick Ass II.

    • I guess the same reason you can’t just get someone’s physical strengths or characteristics from their blood. It’s genetic.

  22. The guy with the Bow and arrows Harada who never used a Sword was the Silver Samurai in the comics and was a mutant who could teleport and charge blades to cut anything in half. He also fought wolverine in the comics because wolverine took his woman if I am correct, and they completely changed him. I no longer look forward to any character inspired by anything in film again because every time I do Mandarin, Dead pool, Juggernaught, and now Silver Samurai I get disappointed. So if they say we are using Apocalypse, Sinister, Omega Red, Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Ultron (etc)We will probably see Mr Apoca Red, Green Ocklin, and Ultra Trevor. If you are going to use a character use a character, or create one to fit a purpose in the film, just so tired of expecting something and wham psych you again and they are laughing their @$$$#$ off. I say again I liked the movie just kinda bumbed out they completely change a character I really liked, and I would have loved to see John Sublime as the old man Samurai’s Scientist helper, just would have made sense since John Sublime wants mutants powers for himself and his followers.

    • Silver Samurai was Mariko’s half-brother in the comics, and his power was to focus Tacyhon fields through his sword. He could not teleport on his own, he had some ring that did that.

  23. Did the Silver Ironman take some of Wolverines blood threw his Bone claws if I am thinking right.

    • Silver Ironman… Lmao! Pretty much.

  24. I did enjoy the film. I have always enjoyed every X men film whether it has flaws or not. There will always be complaints about the way characters are portrayed. By and large the movie is well balanced. For everyone out there wondering if you should go and watch the film, I’d say go, have a great time and have a mind of your own.

  25. Did any of you catch Bishop in the Airport scene in the beginning.

    • You’re kidding me?! That’s what I get for having a few beers before the movie. *face to palm

  26. Can someone explain Jean Gray’s purpose in the film. She didnt even like Logan like that, she was in Love with Cyclops. So her appearance in the film is a flaw.
    As far as those bone claws,a huge flaw in the film. At the end of the origins movie, when striker shoots him in the head with the adamantium bullet, you his skull grow back as well as the adamantium coating on the skull regenerate as well. So after the girl throws the blades in her fathers skull, why not take them out and reattach them to his claws to they can be fused back on. I was totally disappointed in this movie, and to say it was a good film is a slap in the face to anyone who has read the comics and watched the cartoons. These writers and producers of these Horrendous x-men films should be FLOGGED!! REBOOT THE ENTIRE SERIES!!
    Oh and Xavier’s appearanceas Xavier is just wrong!!!!

    • Actually, bullets don’t pierce the adamantium plated skull. When Logan gets shot in the head in X2, as he is lying on the ground, you can see the flesh growing back over the adamantium, rejecting the bullet. He’ll have to have his bone claws recoated with the metal. That’s still my biggest bone of contention with the 2 Wolverine solo movies.
      As a child when he first pops his claws and kills someone, the incident is so traumatic that he blocks it from his conscious mind. In the comics he didn’t realize his claws were made of bone until after Magneto forcibly removed the adamantium from his body and they came out during a fight.

  27. I gave it a 5 out of 5. Best X Men since X2 which I also say is 5 out of 5. The action scenes were great and it was cool to see him have to deal with his healing factor being eliminated for a while. Some people will always b**** about comic book films but this one is in my top five.

  28. I was disappointed by The Wolverine. Did I hate it? No, but neither did I love it. I kept waiting for Wolverine to show up. I kept waiting for the smart @%^, wise cracking Wolverine we all know and love and count on for those moments of humor peppered into the drama and action to show up. He never truly showed up. We caught glimpses and then he withdrew back into the withdrawn, neutered Wolverine that dominated the screen much of this film.

    The movie started okay, Jean Grey distraction aside, but ended up very muddled, pushed past the point of believablity (even for a superhero movie), and generally falling flat. Doesn’t help that I saw much of the plot line coming. SPOILER WARNING
    Who didn’t know the old man wasn’t dead and his granddaughter was a pawn? And really, why was he attracted to her? Her character was jumbled, weak and mewing one moment and suddenly can take care of herself the next? Make up your mind already. The villain….one of the villains, I mean all but 3 people in the film were villains, I would be referring to Viper was just annoying. She wasn’t scary, she was just annoying and I wanted to slice that ridiculous mole off the whole film.
    My sixteen year old daughter probably summed it up best. He never had a moment. Usually there is a big moment where Logan/Wolverine snaps, lets those claws out and with a primal scream proceeds to kick *&%. Sure he kicked some butt but he lacked his usual bite and verve. All in all a mediocre addition to the franchise and that is a darn shame because Marvel is usually kick butt good. Here’s hoping our smart talking,attitude drenched hero returns for the next X Men film.

  29. How did wolverine remember scenes from the war when Stryker shot him and erased his memories after this date ?

    • Professor Xavier had been screwing around so much with Logan’s memories who knows what he really has remembered.