An average start to the summer film season begins with the long-awaited “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” After three films of mutant ecstasy, viewers finally learn the troubled back story of their favorite adamantium-clawed beast: Logan, a.k.a Wolverine. Though formulaic and predictable, it will keep you interested as to how it will connect with previous installments.
“Wolverine” opens rather unexpectedly in the 18th century, showing brothers Jimmy (a.k.a. Logan/Wolverine) and Victor (a.k.a. Sabertooth), as their father is killed before their eyes. It is then that young Jimmy releases the animal inside for the first time and murders the attacker, with bone claws no less.
We are led through a sequence of historical events ranging from the Civil War to the D-Day invasion, in each of which Jimmy and Victor play a part. Shortly after being locked away in a prison cell, government agent William Styker recruits them for a special ops team along with other mutants, including Wade Wilson, John Wraith, Bolt and Agent Zero. Unbeknownst to Logan, Styker’s intentions were not benign.
The bond between Logan and Victor is severed as Logan leaves the group for a better life away from bloodshed. We are reintroduced to Logan as an often-shirtless lumberjack living a peaceful life with his schoolteacher partner, Kayla. When Kayla is murdered by his brother, Logan once again transforms into Wolverine and will let nothing stand in the way of his vengeance.
At a mere hour and 45 minutes, the film felt kind of rushed. Like many superhero movies before it, explosions, high-concept action scenes and non-stop fight sequences take the front seat to a much deeper and unearthed back story that should have been revealed. In post-“Dark Knight” times, superhero films are expected to go below the service of the action, and though “Wolverine” attempts this, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Hugh Jackman is flawless as Wolverine, and without him the film would have been a disaster. The cast also includes Danny Huston as William Stryker, Taylor Kitsch as fan-favorite Gambit and the painfully underused Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. Reynolds’ scene was one of the most memorable in the entire film. Unfortunately, it occurred in the opening 20 minutes.
The breathtakingly beautiful Lynn Collins is mesmerizing as Wolverine’s one true love and only person who is able to tame the beast inside him, Kayla Silverfox. The emotional bond is Hood’s one strong point, as it is evident that this is his first big-budget action film because he cares more about action rather than substance. He does not develop any other characters besides Wolverine and Kayla, and that is where the film is lacking.
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is a good — but not great — prequel to a valued trilogy that deserved much better.