Copyright © 2009 by 20th Century Fox
A spin-off from the X-Men film series, it chronicles the life of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), focusing on his violent past and his relationship with his half-brother Victor Creed / Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber). The plot also details Wolverine’s early encounters with Major William Stryker (Danny Huston), his time with Team X, and the bonding of Wolverine’s skeleton with the indestructible metal adamantium during the Weapon X programme.
It was only a matter of time before our most beloved X-Men on screen was headlining his own movie. After getting a glimpse of his past in the first two X-Men films, Wolverine’s complicated background is fully revealed here. We learn that his real name is James Logan and his mutation was triggered when his adopted father was killed by his real father. In an act of rage, James kills him and flees with his half-brother, Victor. As it happened in 1845 and they have the gift of regeneration, they spend the next century as soldiers fighting in the American Civil War, both World Wars and the Vietnam War. It was fascinating to learn that they were such an integral part to world history and it would have been good if the film makers explored this facet of their lives a little longer.
Instead, what we get is just a snapshot of those events and how they supported each other through those harrowing times. It further cements their relationship when Victor kills a senior officer in 1975 and James jumps to his defense, prompting their execution by firing squad which they survive. They are then offered a place to join Team X by Stryker that consists of other mutants including Agent Zero (Daniel Henney), Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), John Wraith (will.i.am), Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), and Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan). They join the team but James decides to leave the group when he does not see eye to eye with his team mates on their mistreatment for human life. After six years, he is seen working as a lumberjack in Canada and living with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). But a series of events concocted by Stryker lures James back to the colonel and agrees to undergo the painful operation of melding his bones with the unbreakable metal under the pretense that Stryker is helping him to exact revenge.
It is noble that James went through all that pain for love. Again, if the film delved more on James and Kayla’s relationship and their time together in Canada, it would have made a far stronger conviction once he decided that it was the only way for him to rid off all that anger. Understandably, the focus is all on Wolverine and Hugh Jackman does not disappoint. Having played him for the fourth time with a committed physical training regimen, he is every bit the Wolverine as envisioned in the long running comics. If the bar was not set so incredibly high by the works of Bryan Singer, this would have been a respectable effort as a standalone film. As it is not, the finished product, though polished is lacking in the grittiness that defined the first two in the series. The characters are layered with enough complexities to whet the audiences’ appetite for coming installments.
The same cannot really be said here. We are introduced to many interesting and colourful characters but they are just too supporting or blandly straightforward for us to care about them. It is unfortunate as there are many standout performances, most notably from Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, another fan favourite finally brought to life after numerous unsuccessful attempts prior to this. Although just a brief appearance, it is also worth mentioning that Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of Wade Wilson aka Deadpool is spot-on and captures the essence of this wisecracking mercenary with lethal swordsmanship skills. Still waiting for him to headline his own movie since negotiations began in 2003! He definitely gave the immortal brothers a run for their money during the final battle.
Whether it is a clash of creativity between the film makers and the personnel of Fox which could have altered the original vision of this project, to the purists who are hoping that this is the equivalent of DC’s Batman Begins, they may need to wait for another attempt to bring these established characters back to their glory days. Fret not, while it is not the redemption that we are hoping for after the last outing, it is still commendable for what has been presented on Wolverine’s early days. Now that it is already covered, let us hope for his next romp as the clawed one, it will be a return to form with his usual cool, rough and gruff demeanor, bub.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity