“Wolverine Loses His Edge”
By Scott Mantz
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber
Directed by Gavin Hood
With thick muscles protruding from his well-toned body, it’s safe to say that 40-year-old Hugh Jackman is in the best shape of his life. It’s also safe to assume that despite being 9 years older than he was when he first played the role that made him a star, the Wolverine in the spin-off movie “X-Men Origins” could take on the Wolverine from the first “X-Men” film and probably kick his ass.
Jackman’s impressive physical prowess notwithstanding, the movie has little else to recommend it beyond a few cool action scenes. Where 2000’s “X-Men” was a compelling film that paved the way for character-driven superhero movies like “Spider-Man 2,” “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” pales in comparison, thanks to overcooked digital effects and a cliché-ridden story that lacks an emotional pull.
Long before he was a reluctant hero, James Logan (Hugh Jackman) served in many wars with his combative brother Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) – a.k.a. Sabretooth – before living a life of peace with his girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). When their bliss is shattered, Logan is recruited by William Stryker (Danny Huston) to serve in his top secret Weapon X project, which will make his skeletal structure indestructible with Adamantium.
Logan soon discovers Stryker’s ulterior motive – to kidnap mutants and channel their powers into one high-tech mercenary called Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). After escaping from Stryker’s forces, Logan – who now goes by Wolverine – tries to stop Stryker from carrying out his plan, but he must first come face-to-face with his brother in a knock-down, drag-out fight that will seal both of their fates.
By taking Wolverine out of his element with the other X-Men, the film loses the ability to showcase his dynamic personality. To Rogue, Wolverine was a father figure. To Jean Grey, he was a potential lover. To Cyclops, he was a rival. To Professor Xavier, he was a student. And to everyone else, he was a reluctant hero with a bad attitude and an appetite for cigars.
But as written by David Benioff and Skip Woods, and as directed by Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi,” “Rendition”), “Wolverine” lacks the imagination that fueled the pervious three “X-Men” films – which grossed more than $1.1 billion worldwide – and feels derivative of other movies. That’s especially true when Wolverine takes refuge with two elderly farmers who resemble Clark Kent’s adopted parents from the first “Superman” movie. There are even times when “Wolverine” resembles – of all things – “Rambo: First Blood Part II.”
The closest that “Wolverine” feels to an “X-Men” movie is near the end, when a beloved character makes a surprise appearance to usher the younger mutants to safety. Otherwise, Hugh Jackman gets upstaged in his own movie by Liev Schreiber, who’s clearly have a ball playing the bad guy. That’s a shame, because if the story had been as well toned as Jackman’s incredible physique, maybe Wolverine’s bark would have been as badass as his bite.
Verdict: SKIP IT!