X-Men is, of course, a massively loved franchise, and is wildly credited with being one of two franchises which helped turn the comic book movie into a major box office success. (The other being Spiderman.) However, when Bryan Singer’s departure from the series led to a rather disappointing third instalment, many fans looked to the anticipated Wolverine film to restore the franchise to its former glory.
Those fans have been disappointed.
As children in mid 1800’s Canada, James Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) discover that they’re mutants and brothers on the same night. They go on the run, and fight in every major war between the American Civil War and Vietnam, doing plenty of killing along the way. Then, one day they get recruited by General Striker’s special unit, and do some very specialised killing along with other mutants. Then one day, for no apparent reason, Logan gets tired of the killing and leaves, while Victor feels abandoned and can only express his emotions through the medium growling and trying to kill Logan.
There are a lot of problems with Wolverine. A lot. For starters, the film is supposed to be set in and around the 60’s, yet we see lovely new computers with modern flashy, slick interfaces. The plot is pretty much paper thin, and the character development is pretty laughable. The film also introduces a number of faces from the X-Men universe, name-checks them, then promptly ignores them or kills them off.
Jackman does his best to bring passion to the role, and possibly would have succeeded in pulling off a great performance if the supporting cast were better. Danny Huston’s Striker is a walking cliché of military corruption, and brings none of the nuance to the role that was masterfully handled by Brian Cox in X2. The special effects should also be examined, as they are, in places, some of the poorest I’ve seen in a big budget film for a long time. (The scene with Logan examining himself in the mirror jumps to mind.)
The biggest issues that I have with Wolverine, however, are twofold. Firstly, Wolverine focuses almost entirely on the what that made Wolverine the man we see in the X-Men Trilogy, at the expense of the why, and for me the what has never been what made Wolverine interesting as a character.
The second problem I alluded to in the first, and it’s quite a grievous problem. Wolverine’s greatest failure is that it tells a story that I’m not interested in. We already received a fulfilling origin story for Wolverine in X2, a brilliantly executed, touching, emotional origin story – a story far more interested in character than in style, and is all the more fulfilling for it. It’s quite sad to see Wolverine as a film of such poor quality, because it’s easy to see the passion that Hugh Jackman has for the role, and for the project, but unfortunately, not even a cameo appearance by Patrick Stewart as a yet-uncrippled Professor Xavier can save this film from its mediocrity.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is, sadly, a rather empty affair - full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. After an hour, I was waiting for the film to end. C+.