The Wolverine, sequel to X-men Origins Wolverine begins in World War II Japan. Wolverine AKA Logan (Hugh Jackman) seems to be a POW left deep in a hole within a Japanese camp. Warnings are sounding, something big is coming. It becomes obvious to anyone who watches this scene that it is the city of Nagasaki, and of course what is coming their way is a nuclear weapon set to destroy the city and its inhabitants.
A Japanese soldier named Yashida (Ken Yamamura) catches Wolverine looking through an opening that is on top of the hole. The soldier is too distracted by all the commotion, and all the warning sirens. Wolverine knows what is coming, and suggests to the soldier that he comes down the hole for it is the only place he can hide from the terror that lies ahead.
Instead, Yashida joins his fellow servicemen; they are committing suicide one by one. When it is Yashida’s turn Wolverine pulls the soldier aside, and throws himself and the Yashida into the hole along with a metal plate. Wolverine protects the soldier and covers him with the metal plate.
One of the things that strike me about this scene is how Wolverine can protect the soldier with only a metal plate down a hole, and within a nuclear blast. Granted Wolverine heals fast to the point of turning into a skeleton at times but I think that living through a nuclear blast would most likely burn them both even with only a metal plate and Wolverine’s body to protect Yashida. Maybe I am thinking too logically. I don’t know all the science behind such nuclear blasts; it could possibly happen. Whether it could be possible or not it sure did make for an exciting scene.
The next act takes the viewer to a scene set sometime after X-men 3 The Last Stand. Wolverine is back in Canada, his birth country but he is not in a very good state. Logan looks like a mountain man, and is just a full blown mess. Logan is troubled by his memories of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and her death; he just cannot let her go from his thoughts.
Wolverine is haunted by visions of Jean Grey and illusions that place him in situations where he interacts with her. This becomes a running theme throughout the film. Jean becomes a reminder for Logan of what death could be like, and he desires to be free with her in the afterlife; however she is way beyond his reach. Logan feels he could never find a love that resembles the love he felt for Jean Grey.
As Wolverine heads for the local town, he is angry at some of the local hunters for killing a bear, and also provoking that bear- which also led to some hunters deaths. He encounters a Pink Haired Japanese Lady named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) which helps in his conflict against the hunter. After the confrontation Yukio reveals that she had been sent by Logan’s old acquaintance Yashida (Hal Yamanouchi) from Japan who is now old and dying. Yashida wants Logan to visit him on his death bed with a special offer for The Wolverine.
Yashida is now very rich and powerful. Yashida offers to Logan a deal he hopes that The Wolverine will not refuse. It seems that the Yashida has found a way to transfer Wolverine’s healing factor away from him to the ability to transfer it to another, and Yashida wants that healing ability transferred to him.
He explains that it is a chance for Wolverine to live a normal life, to finally grow old and eventually die. It is a tempting offer for Logan considering what he has been feeling about his life lately. But Logan refuses the offer, and tells the soldier he does not want what he has.
In the middle of the night, and while asleep Logan is attacked by Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), she is the scientist who developed the healing transfer technology. Viper is also a mutant with serpent like abilities. Viper kisses him but it seems that she placed something within him. Logan is confused, because the attack happened during one of his Jean visions; he questions whether it was real or not. This is important, because whatever Viper did to Logan it seems to have weakened his healing factor.
The soldier dies, and at the funeral Logan gets entangled in a plot against Yashida’s grand-daughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Wolverine is then caused to defend the Mariko from a band of marauders. It becomes very difficult for Logan to fight, because his healing factor is now failing him. This leads to an exciting chase around Japan, and a crazy but thrilling fight sequence on top of a super-fast bullet train. The train sequence is one of the highlights in this film, the scene is well choreographed, and it is just a fun scene to watch.
One thing that confused me about Logan losing his healing abilities was that he would react to being shot, and it seems that it hurt him, he would get dizzy and disoriented- but he seemed alright when his metal claws tore through his knuckles. If Logan was becoming more mortal, his metal claws ripping through his flesh should hurt him as much as the bullets. I don’t know maybe it’s me thinking too logically again. I should maybe take it with a grain of salt and move on.
Later, Logan and the Mariko are lead back to the place where it started, the city of Nagasaki. This is where Logan learns to love again, he begins to fall for Mariko but at the same time he is still haunted by the memories of Jean. Tao Okamoto as Mariko is wonderful in the film, she is beautiful, and her performance can best be described as graceful but with a little mystery behind her.
Rila Fukushima as Yukio is also superb as Logan’s sidekick, and as Logan’s sometimes protector. As the story moves on she becomes an important player in Wolverine’s success in overcoming the next challenges he faces in the film, Yukio is there when Logan needs help the most. Yukio has a mutant ability, she can see the future but only the future of people’s death; and she sees Logan’s death. A few times in the movie Logan face true death. Wolverine’s mortality is a big part of the movie, and it leads to certain revelations, he learns to see what is important in his life, and gains his passion for living again.
In the end The Wolverine faces one of his greatest challenges. The plot becomes clearer as to why Mariko is the center of a lot of the conflicts, she is an important person involved inheriting the company from Yashida, but she also acts as bait for The Wolverine. A new enemy arises, a person he thought was his friend becomes his enemy, and strangers become his friends. It’s no surprise at this moment that Wolverine faces The Silver Samurai, it is an exciting scene at the end of the movie, and it this event that changes Logan for future X-men or X-men related story-lines.
Be sure to stay during the running of the credits to watch an extra scene. The extra scene sets up the next X-men installment, X-men Days of Future Past; coming next year. It is a perfect lead in to the movie, and it will leave you with many questions to ponder after you leave the theater.
Featured image from Flickr (starlam)