Comic-book movies have taken an upswing in quality lately, with Marvels successful ventures Iron Man and Hulk last year, and most recently, the dark and violent pathos of Watchmen. Now the X-Men franchise is back once considered the only decent series out there, until X-Men 3 came over all mediocre. Can Wolverine bring it back from the edge?
Wolverine tells the backstory of the most enjoyable X-Man, Logan / Wolverine. The film opens with a scene between two brothers set in 1845, and attempts from the start to engage our interest with unexpected twists. Did you know this story went back this far? Did you know that Wolverine has a brother? A mutant brother? His name is Victor Creed (aka Sabretooth, funnily enough not mentioned in the movie, and played by Live Schreiber).
Logan is bedridden with illness and Victor expresses his irritation at the attention Logan is given by their father. A scuffle is overheard in the hallways between a visiting drunk and the man of the house. Suddenly a gunshot and the father is killed. Logan in rage discovers his special talents, his bone claws and healing ability and kills the drunk who turns out be to his father. In fear the boys run away into the night to stay bound together evermore.
Or so they hoped. The bonding of brothers through decades of war flies by in montage and is perhaps the most intriguing part of the film. To examine closely how they came together and fell apart would have been a movie of its own. Instead it cuts to a special forces unit where Victor shows his true colours as brutal and amoral and Logan abandons him.
Years pass and Logan has settled down in rural Canada with Kayla (Lynn Collins). He is sniffed out by his Special Force commander and then by his brother. Twists unfurl; vengeance and greed spring from every nook. It become increasingly evident that that tale consists of stale segments crammed together; it is cramped and awkwardly reported and interest is soon lost.
The visual effects cant save things either. They appear outdated and outmoded. Wolverines bone claws (later Adamantium) look false and incongruous. Victors bestial leaping look shabby at the best of times. Even the giant showpieces lack bite and are over all too soon as though the budget fell out from under the script.
Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman are both pretty magnetic but lack the bristle of other adversaries in the franchise. Collins does a fair turn in the sole female role but is left a little one-dimensional, a mere foil in the game the boys play. Danny Huston is the dry, bad-guy but hardly garners any sense of repugnance due to his time on screen.
Overall, a character with back-story is often more interesting than the back-story of the character, and the origins of James Logan aka Wolverine, which should have been intriguing, are let down the clumsy storytelling and flogged of creativity until the concept grinds on your patience. Thankfully youre not likely to remember it for long.