In 2010, critically acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky was set to direct the next installment of the X-Men series, The Wolverine. Then, in 2011, he gave a resounding “fuck that noise” and bowed out of the film. I guess he felt that his time would be better spent filming Jennifer Connelly staring off into the sunset on a boardwalk or sneaking into my dreams and giving me nightmares. Instead of Aronofsky, we got stuck with the guy who directed Knight and Day. Lovely.
Like any self-respecting X-Men movie, the film’s prologue takes place in World War II. The ageless, shirtless, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is hanging out in Japan for no apparent reason when an air raid siren sounds. A bunch of bros seppuku the shit out of themselves leaving just one selfish guy alive. Logan then proceeds to save the young Japanese soldier from being blown the fuck up by a nearby nuke being dropped on Nagasaki.
Then, sixty years later or so, Logan finds himself doing what every hero in temporary retirement does: retreating into the wilderness, chopping some wood, growing a sweet beard and befriend a mangy companion (see also: Shooter, Rambo). However, in his case, his mangy companion is a fucking bear. Sorry gay homies, not that kind of bear. The two of them proceed to chill and do bear stuff all while Logan just casually looks like some sort of cross between Rob Zombie and all of my older sister’s friends from 1998 who liked to listen to Cypress Hill and ash their cigarettes all over my Five Star Binder. That’s when our reluctant hero receives a call to action—We need you to come to Japan to do [insert bullshit expository reason here].
I was half expecting it to end with a crazy, brightly colored game show about giggling Japanese schoolgirls with Hello Kitty backpacks eating sushi and crashing their airplanes into American aircraft carriers.
Upon arriving in the Orient, Logan almost instantly takes off his shirt and starts killing people. Turns out that the Japanese soldier from the beginning thanks Logan by being a total dickhole and tries to steal his powers to become immortal. There are, like, twenty different villains in this shit that all have their own vaguely explained motives along with dozens of expendable henchmen. There’s a mob boss, an evil archer, a blond chick with ambiguous mutant powers and a robot legitimately called “The Silver Samurai." The Yakuza even make an appearance. although, some of them look more like Latin Kings, wearing wife beaters and chain wallets. While watching the movie, I wasn’t sure which parties were fighting for which side and, quite frankly, neither did any of the actors. To be totally honest, it didn’t help that that most of the characters were of “eastern persuasion," and since I'm racist, I couldn't tell them apart.
If you can believe it, the movie was even more politically incorrect than me. It came equipped with its very own triple threat of Japanese racial stereotypes: a petite woman in a geisha costume, ninjas and weird sexual stuff like a Mission-To-Mars-themed fornication hotel. I was half expecting it to end with a crazy, brightly colored game show about giggling Japanese schoolgirls with Hello Kitty backpacks, eating sushi and crashing airplanes into American aircraft carriers.
Unlike any of the other X-Men movies, this film was less about a large scale, world impacting climax than a self-contained character study. As you might already know, Wolverine is a character that has the ability to (aside from smoke cigars and fuck shit up) regenerate his damaged body. However, at one point in the film, this mutant power is taken away from him, making him as vulnerable as a crowd surfer at a Limp Bizkit concert. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s the third shitty late 90’s alternative rock band referenced in the article. I'm on fire.
This vulnerability is what made the movie so appealing to me in the first place. That’s why it felt like a big middle finger when, SPOILER ALERT, he gets his powers back about ten minutes after losing them. That’s a minor inconvenience at best. "Oh my god I’m so sorry—this almost never happens. Give me ten minutes baby. I’ll get my powers back. But, like, maybe you could use your mouth this time?"
One of the characters in the movie describes Logan as a “Ronin”—a Samurai with no master—and, incidentally, an awesome movie with Jean Reno. Logan is a man without a home, without any friends and without a purpose. While these qualities sound like the perfect ingredients to make a solid action hero, this is legit the sixth movie that he’s been moping around like this. Quit being a fucking buzz kill, bro. There’s a seventh X-Men movie coming out next year and you better shape the fuck up by then. Like, how about getting out and meeting some people? Take a spin class or something. You’re really bringing us down. Ironically enough, Hugh Jackman has actually played Wolverine more times than any other actor in the history of superhero movies. Sorry, George Clooney Batman.
Four Pins Rating: 5/10 Mutton Chops
Matt Rimer is a writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter here.