Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wolf (1994)(Spoiler Reivew)

**This review contains spoilers**

Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) accidentally hits a wolf during a drive through Vermont after a business trip. Will tries to move the wolf, but the wolf awakens to bite Will’s hand. Before Will has a chance to react, the wolf disappears, leaving Will alone in the middle of the road.

Will returns to his job as editor-in-chief at a publishing house and his wife, Charlotte (Kate Nelligan) in New York City. Will battles a series of odd changes including a stronger sense of smell, taste, and hearing, and Will is forced to deal with more problems. Will is about to loose his job to a deceitful and ambitious apprentice named Stewart Winton (James Spader). Raymond Alden (Christopher Plummer) is pulling all the strings, backing Will into a corner with two unsavory options: Will can accept the demotion, and take a dead end job in Eastern Europe, or Will can leave without a job.

As Will contemplates his options, bizarre symptoms (including random blackouts) caused by the wolf bite disrupts Will’s daily routine. After a while, Will is forced to confront his fears of slowly transforming into a werewolf. At Raymond’s estate, Will meets Laura (Michelle Pfeiffer), Raymond’s daughter, and eventually, Will and Laura form an unlikely bond. Will embraces his new found vitality, and after a series of bold moves, Will is able to turn the tables on Stewart. But Will is loosing control of his werewolf alter-ego, and Will’s secret is in serious jeopardy after a visit from Detective Carl Bridger (Richard Jenkins).

Jack Nicholson’s charismatic and conflicted performance is so fun to watch. At first, you get the sense Will Randall is this broken and depressed man, who’s frustrated with everyone and everything in his life. After the wolf bite, Jack transforms himself into a confident and fearless man, who’s overjoyed about finding the fountain of youth.

But Jack is able to show a believable amount of regret, confusion, and distress, because Will is terrified of the violent and dark werewolf inside of him. Two scenes stick out as good examples for the torments within Will. The first scene involves Jack panicking after Will pulls a pair of human fingers out of his pocket in the bathroom at work after an attack the night before. The second scene is Will handcuffing himself to a radiator in his hotel room. The look of fear and shame on Jack’s face is priceless, because Jack gives you the impression Will is genuinely terrified of unleashing the werewolf. Throughout his career, Jack Nicholson has done a masterful job of setting a bar of excellence for his performances, and he doesn’t disappoint here.

James Spader’s Stewart is the ideal adversary for Jack’s Will. Spader is capable of bringing legit feelings of anger out of you, as this phony and slimy backstabbing weasel, who is determined to ruin Will’s life. Pfeiffer is enjoyable as the new spark in Will’s life, and Pfeiffer shares some great chemistry with Jack. Christopher Plummer is a nice fit for the powerful and wealthy businessman, and Plummer nails the disapproving and overbearing father side of the Raymond character.

The rivalry between Will and Stewart is one of the driving forces behind Wolf. It’s funny, because you get the feeling of a meaningless little squabble at first. After the wolf bite, the rivalry snowballs into an avalanche of infidelity, constant backstabbing, and murder. Will gives you the feeling he might take the high road, but after he catches Charlotte with Stewart, Will bites Stewart on his hand (slowly transforming Stewart into a werewolf), and Will embarks on a mission to destroy Stewart. Will is the seasoned veteran, and Stewart is the hungry young lion, but Will isn’t ready to step down, because he’s got a little bit of fight left in him. Will targets Stewart’s throat, but Will has enough self-control to not cross certain lines. Stewart, on the other hand, is willing to stoop to every low imaginable to extract revenge on Will. You can really feel the seething hatred between Will and Stewart, and the bitter feud concludes in a nasty fight to the death, as Will fights to save Laura’s life.

You’ll see the more emotional moments in Wolf during the ups and downs in Will and Laura’s relationship. It’s funny, because Will and Laura are an unlikely pairing. Will is this miserable old man, who’s going through a mid-life crisis, and Laura is a rebellious free spirit, who dances to the beat of her own drum. And I’m happy Wolf didn’t go with the happily ever after ending. During the finale, as Will’s transformation comes full circle, together, Will and Laura realize they can’t be together, so Will runs off into the night, leaving Laura alone. At the end, it’s revealed Laura is also a werewolf, and to make sure Will has enough time to escape, Laura intentionally steers Bridger and the police in the wrong direction. Before the fight to the death with Stewart, Laura had plans to leave the country with Will to start a new life. It’s a bittersweet and refreshing ending to this bizarre and unusual romance.

Wolf doesn’t rely on tons of blood and gore. Instead, the terror comes from the idea of a werewolf terrorizing New York City. A vicious beast is unleashed in an authentic setting to devour helpless prey, and Wolf doesn’t oversaturate the story with hysterical supernatural nonsense. Wolf is an elegant werewolf flick with a passionate love story, a thrilling finale, and the perfect mischievous ending. Plus, Wolf is able to provide some great humor without a reaching a too silly point.

Rating: 9/10

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