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Wolf (1994)

Directed by Mike Nichols  Written by Jim Harrison & Wesley Strick

  I had already created the vibe so lets just round it out with a third and final review about werewolves. And I’m not exactly sure what it is with movies about werewolves but it seems to take so long to have each one released. It took Jack Nicholson 12 years to try and get this movie made with writer Harrison who had to delay the release date almost 8 months to shoot the entire third act all over again.

  One night while driving home in a bit of blurry weather, Will Randall runs into a dog while trying to clear snow from his windshield. Distraught at the accident he begins to pull the dog aside when it leaps up and bites him; joined by several other dogs waiting near-by. He returns to work the next day a bit down and not solely due to the previous night’s encounter. It seems a party is to be had at his boss’s house later that night with the thought of not having his job after the night’s end a recurrent thought. A fellow client discusses how if the company did dare to fire him that she would leave along with as they meet up with Will’s protegé, Stewart Swinton (James Spader) to discuss the final terms on her contract. Seeming as an easy enough out. Later on at the doctor’s office spending the majority of the visit trying to convince the Doc of what he saw while on the road the night prior.

  Later at his boss, Raymond Alden’s (Christopher Plummer) house, we find Will making a small speech to a group of how one could make the argument that the world was already ending. Art has been replaced by pop culture and day time television, preaching to a rather quiet audience and called to speak with his boss later on the terrace. Approaching an area outside his house where horses were being looked at, jerking and fidgeting about the closer Will became. A pain sends him wandering off to a separate location of the house as Laura (Michelle Pfeiffer) comes out from behind and hands him a drink. Introducing herself as the boss’s daughter. Followed by brief discussion and coy flirting with Will returning to the party to inform his protegé of having just become the newest editor in chief. It seemed Stewart had been begging Alden for months for the position, unbeknownst to Will. His wife seems to take the news harder than him and asks to be awoken the next day at 8 to find her enter at 7:40…that night. Finding Will in the exact position she left him. They have dinner later as the animistic side starts to come out. Later in the bath noticing a mass amount of hair growing out of one hand as the next day brings an enlightened arrival of every sense.

  Will’s wife leaves for vacation as he puts up her things, smelling a familiar scent and taking off like a wild beast through the streets, arriving at Stewart’s house. Will lets himself in and up the stairs, biting Stewart’s hand and finding his wife in only a t-shirt asking what “he” wanted. The next day at work he gets straight to business asking his secretary to make a couple of lists for him and to make an appointment with Alden for later in the day. He then goes to a pretty scared Stewart with his final warning: “I’m gonna get you Stewart.” His meeting with Alden was to state how he would not be taking the job overseas and immediately leaves to catch hold of Laura. Having lunch at her place they continue on their day, ending up by the lake. Will confiding of his bite and the thought of the wolf maybe having passed something onto him. Admitting to feeling too great and fearing it would come with a price.

  The moonlight brings a different type of Will with the sun contrasting confusion and another trip to the doctor’s. But by no means in the mood  for tests and has his final meeting with Alden later to preach his plan, should he actually go through with firing him. Agreeing to all of Will’s terms and asking only to wait before going public; gladly letting Stewart know of the recent changes. Meeting with Dr. Vijay Alezais (Om Puri) to discuss his book on wolf’s and ask about his symptoms he had been experiencing. Dr. Alezais detailing of the only thing making sense being that he was in fact turning into a wolf. Handing down some rules that he had remembered and given an amulet that he’s told would hold the beast at bay. The doctor’s last request being for Will to honor him with a bite, having recently received a death sentence. A kind but denied request as he goes back home and calls Laura to apologize for suddenly leaving the night prior. Wanting to make it up with the promise of never happening again.

  The night soon beckons him as he finds himself at the zoo with no recollection of getting there. Two police officer’s following shortly after (cameo by David Schwimmer) as he escapes and comes in contact with a group of guys who hold him at gunpoint. Snarls and flashes of the screen teasingly show what happened to the guys with the morning holding no recollection of anything enduring. At the office he makes the deal final as he catches up with Stewart in the restroom, informing him of taking back the position and firing him in the process. Marking his territory quite literally. Stewart storms off as Will washes up to find a surprise or two hidden within his pockets including a piece of bloody shirt and pair of fingers. Rushing back home, encountering a brief run-in with his wife who begs to be let back in. Telling her to leave, unaware Laura was close-by as she follows him up and knocks on his door. Reluctant to open up Laura uses her persuasive skills with a maid as she lets her in and finds him chained to the bed. Using a paper clip she releashes him and they take it upon themselves to enjoy the night with one another.

  We are introduced to Detective Bridger (Richard Jenkins) as Will introduces Laura as his fiance and it being alright to disclose any information to her ears. The news brought of his wife having been found dead in the park with her throat ripped out. Completely made a fool of by Laura at Bridger’s attempt in questioning his whereabouts of the previous night. As they venture in the car to her place it seems Laura has become a bit suspicious in whether she should trust him or not. Receiving a call from Detective Bridger, whose informed of the traces of dog hair mixed in with Charlotte and the inability to get any real prints from the body. Locking up Will just as the moon sets and heads for a late night meeting with the detective. Stewart ends up reaching Bridger first and admits of his affair with Will’s wife. With a new pair of eyes he suggest a full motive for killing his wife. Meanwhile Laura races back to her place, warning the guard of no one entering under any circumstances. Stewart paying no mind and easily getting by. Tripping over her dead guard’s body but able to get Stewart inside the barn using a fire extinguisher and a showdown between our two wolves does not disappoint.

Final Thoughts: The fact that the movie never actually uses the word werewolf and that we never see an actual transformation occur didn’t take away from the film like one might think. Spader and Nicholson made great wolves. The final sequence was such a great fight between the creatures like haven’t seen prior. They didn’t even turn all the way and the make-up they dawned was greatly horrific and menacing, done once again by Rick Baker; certainly a familiar face among wolves.

  Nicholson is a great actor and completely embraces this role, every role really, with such ease as if never a complex act. Pfeiffer could have had more time interacting; she seemed like this mystic force that was present but not always seen. Plummer as well, playing the snobbish boss was too easy of a role being a fine fit for such but wasn’t on-screen often enough. Though I especially liked the progression of Will in the movie. In the beginning we see him as this doormat that people walk on, even in his own circle and taken advantage of. But after getting bitten, he’s finally able to realize his potential and begins speaking up for himself. Nicholson was also very good at alternating between the two and maintaining a sarcastic charm through it all. The ending happened rather abruptly, on a more humorous tone with eyes in the background being the last thing shown as it seems there is a new werewolf amongst them. Leaving possibilities of a second of which thankfully no one has bothered to try to mess up…yet.