X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Directed By: Gavin Hood

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Durand, will.i.am, Taylor Kitsch, and Lynn Collins

"I come with you, I'm coming for blood.  No law, no code of conduct.  You point me in the right direction, and you get the hell out of my way."
-Logan (Hugh Jackman)

Hugh Jackman is perfect to play the Wolverine.  The only better casting of a superhero in the history of comic book movies is Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man.  The quote from Jackman above and his badass delivery of it illustrate this better than I ever could.  The Wolverine is one tough mutant, and Hugh Jackman makes this abundantly clear in his animalistic depictions of the famed comic book character.  In the original X-Men trilogy, Wolverine was a central part of a team of superheroes, but just one part of that team.  Consequently, this great character had never had a film in its entirety dedicated to exploring what makes him tick.  Back in 2009, Hollywood deemed it appropriate that we delve into this legend's backstory in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  What a mistake that was.

It's 1845.  After witnessing the death of the man he erroneously thought was his father and killing the man who actually is his father, James Howlett (Troye Sivan) runs away with his brother Victor (Michael James Olsen).  They both have a special gift.  These early mutants have the ability to heal from all wounds.  As they get older, James (Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) take this gift onto the battlefield for the better part of a century.  After being locked up for some time, they're visited by a military scientist named William Stryker (Danny Huston).  Stryker is organizing Team X, a special team with special privileges, and would like for James and Victor to join him.  Facing the alternative of rotting in jail, they accept.  This team also includes teleporter John Wraith (will.i.am), deadly swordsman Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), indomitable blob Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), and several others.

During a mission in Lagos to find the metal adamantium, James observes his team's reckless disregard for human life and decides to leave Team X.  Six years later, he's taken the name of Logan and lives in Montreal with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins).  Stryker and Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), a member of Team X for whom Logan has no love lost, pay the ageless mutant a visit at a Canadian construction site where Logan works.  Stryker warns Logan that several members of their old team have recently been assassinated and asks him to join them.  Stryker has what Logan needs to protect himself.  Logan refuses.  Sometime later, he finds Kayla's car and evidence that suggests she's been murdered.  A grieving Logan goes back to Stryker to equip himself with what he needs to kill whomever killed Kayla.  This animal goes back to get his claws and becomes the Wolverine.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a disappointing installment in the X-Men franchise.  While this movie was meant to show the animal and how he got his claws, director Gavin Hood gives us nothing more than a cheesy, watered-down X-Men flick that does not live up in any way to its predecessors.  The story is at times nonsensical.  The performances are underwhelming.  The casting is far from ideal.  Only the action leaves little to be desired.  All in all, the end product that is X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a film that doesn't deserve to be part of such a beloved comic book film series.

There's a lot that just doesn't make sense about this prequel.  The basic premise of the film is that the Wolverine is an animal fueled by unbridled rage.  However, we don't get the animal.  Instead, we spend the vast majority of the film watching Hugh Jackman tame the beast and be a genuinely good guy.  That's not the reason we came to see the Wolverine in action.  We came to see him kick ass unapologetically.  On top of this, the film's major rivalry between Logan and Victor is undermined by one simple fact that Gavin Hood directly states in the film.  Logan is stronger and more powerful than Victor even before he gets his metal claws.  With this notion in mind, he doesn't need the adamantium to beat his brother.  If Logan couldn't have figured this out on his own after a century on the battlefield with Victor, we have a serious problem in the writing department.  With mistakes like this, Hood and his screenwriters botch the entire adamantium storyline.

While Jackman does a decent job in once again taking on the role of Wolverine, his co-stars really drop the ball.  First and foremost, Liev Schreiber is a terrible Victor.  Delivering cheesy dialogue in the worst way possible, he never finds the right balance between serving as one of the film's main antagonists and Logan's big brother.  Beyond Schreiber, we have Danny Huston as William Stryker, the film's other antagonist.  For his part, Huston in no way offers the same cold, calculating menace that Brian Cox gave us in X2: X-Men United six years prior.  We even have Taylor Kitsch tackling the famed comics character Gambit.  Sadly, he's disappointing in every way.  Terrible southern drawl and all, Kitsch does not bring Gambit's cool, mysterious vibe to the big screen in any way, shape, or form.  Lastly, we have Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson.  He fails in this role as he has in all other comic book films since 2009 (see Green Lantern and R.I.P.D.).

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one big disappointment.  Gavin Hood can introduce Gambit, Deadpool, and all of the lovable mutants from Team X, but that's not enough.  What made the other X-Men films work is having all these mutants come together in a well-crafted story.  What made the other X-Men films work is having a cast that could bring these comic book characters to life in the most vivid way possible.  Hood's origin story has neither of these.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine gets a 0.09% rating.  Have some whiskey sours with this one.