X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the first spin-off of the X-Men character movies, is a considerably reliable, action-packed first attempt for an X-Men origin story. And it succeeds largely on having Hugh Jackman back with his adamantium claws, with his charisma breathing the fire into Wolverine. For a film possessed of its scale and ambition, it has a heart and action playing around with its own Shakespearean-style tragedy. However, amidst the strength of its regenerative charm for one of the X-Men pop culture favorites, the rather pedestrian and superficial parts of the script, the extravagantly loopy plotlines, and some by-the-number action spots weaken the film.
The film is not great. It’s not a bad film neither. Yet, it still feels like every other mediocre comic book adaptation seen in theaters. There are some genuine archetypes and myths finding their ways into the mix, but the film’s overflow of half-baked ideas makes it cluttered. It marries action and melodrama in a superficially cinematic way that 50% of it works while the other half becomes a major drawback for not having that deft of feeling for the entire material.
On the surface, director Gavin Hood mounts an action-packed adventure on Wolverine’s back story. The opening sequence is fine. There is also that explorative aspect on the emotions of mainly Logan and his brother Victor while surrounding them with superb action set pieces and few complex character interactions. Wolverine’s appeal proves strong with his mystery and origins uncovered for the thrills.
With Jackman on the lead, he uplifts the weaker parts of the film into a pretty watchable fare. He captures the essence of Wolverine. And considerably, this origins story would collapse under the weight of its unpolished parts if not for the considerable acting prowess of Jackman and Liev Schreiber. They know how to give good growls as Logan/Wolverine and Victor/Sabretooth. How Logan and Victor grow up as brothers is the essence of the story. From there, it picks up towards the inner conflicts of Logan’s character.
Taylor Kitsch as Remy LeBeau/Gambit is a pretty good addition. Amidst his being a secondary character with a short screen time, he makes a lasting impression without upstaging the main characters in the story. Overall, the casting uncompromisingly plays for keeps for the film as well: Lynn Collins as Kayla Silverfox, Danny Huston as William Stryker, Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Kevin Durand as Frederick Dukes/The Blob, Will i Am as John Wraith, Dominic Monaghan as Chris Bradley/Bolt, Daniel Henney as David North/Agent Zero, Scott Adkins as Weapon XI, Tim Pocock as Scott Summers, among others. The script may be convoluted at times, but in general, the characters deliver enough direction to the story’s investment on entertainment and emotional preferences.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is interesting enough to keep Fox’s and Marvel’s planned series of X-Men origin stories. For this offer, it is by no means perfect, but it is an entertaining enough effort that condenses such a complicated origin story into a watchable fast-paced action flick. Thus, leaving the door open for another X-Men prequel.