X-men Origins: Wolverine
dir Gavin Hood
scr David Benioff, Skip Woods
with Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will.I.Am, Lynn Collins, Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Henney, Kevin Durand, Scott Adkins, Tim Pocock
release UK 29.Apr.09, US 1.May.09
09/US Fox 1h47
X-men Origins: Wolverine
A hero will rise: Jackman

schreiber huston reynolds
See also:
The Wolverine (2013) Logan (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
X-men Origins: Wolverine This X-men prequel traces the background of Logan, aka Wolverine. It's a great-looking, action-packed adventure weakened by a superficial script that ignores logic whenever it's inconvenient.

After more than a century of life, Logan (Jackman) and his equally ageless, invincible brother Victor (Schreiber) go to work for the enigmatic William Stryker (Huston). But a mission goes badly wrong, causing a rift between them. Six years later, Victor is stalking their super-powered colleagues (including Reynolds and Monaghan) while Stryker tries to get Logan to rejoin his cause. But things go badly wrong after Victor kills Logan's girlfriend (Collins), locking the brothers in a mortal feud. Or maybe someone else is pulling the strings.

Director Hood gives the film a terrific visual style that brings out the fantasy elements while keeping things dark and gritty and allowing Jackman and Schreiber to give full-bodied performances. The swooping cameras and digital trickery are a bit overdone, while some effects are ropey and attempts at humour can't balance out the bombastic action. This leaves the film feeling overserious even though it's not actually about anything beyond the next battle.

Benioff and Woods are great at stringing together tense sequences that build intrigue but, unlike the first two X-men films, they never push anything beyond the surface. What's left is a fairly simplistic plot, major gaps in logic, and jingoistic growling, grunting dialog. In this world, the answer to any problem is violence: a well-aimed punch, another slash of razor sharp claws or lots of automatic weapons shooting everywhere (but not hitting much). Strangely, for all the brutal violence, there's not much blood. Which is something only videogame fans will buy into.

Fortunately, the X-men universe is populated by terrific characters, including Logan and Victor, aka Wolverine and Sabretooth. And the film is almost stolen by the charming Will.I.Am (as teleporting Wraith), the edgy Monaghan (as sparky Bolt) and especially the charismatic Kitch (as cardshark Gambit). So it's a pity that the script never takes it to the next level, adding subtext that might make the characters identifiable or themes that might catch our imagination. In the end, it's difficult to care about these ill-defined people, no matter how much fun we have watching them fight each other.

cert 12 themes, violence 27.Apr.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall