X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Film
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars
The first in a planned series of ‘X-Men’ prequels, ‘Wolverine’ arrives dogged by a lengthy production process (including a series of extensive and very public reshoots) and by the fact that an early version was leaked online some weeks before the official release. That version – dubbed a ‘workprint’ by the studio, but reportedly similar to the completed cut, barring a few effects shots – has already received a drubbing from those brave enough to admit to having watched it. So how does the finished film stand up?

The plot is thin and largely culled from an established backstory that anyone who's seen 'X2' will be familiar with. After unwittingly murdering his father, young Logan runs away to a life of war and turmoil: deathless and indestructible, Wolverine and his brother Victor, aka Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), are eventually recruited by Danny Huston’s black-ops expert General Stryker for a series of covert missions. But surveillance quickly turns to slaughter, and Logan turns his back on the military. Unfortunately – and predictably – it turns out the military isn’t close to finished with him.

On the plus side, Hugh Jackman is hugely likeable in a role he was born to play, slicing and dicing his way through a series of competent action sequences devised by ‘Rendition’ and ‘Tsotsi’ director Gavin Hood. The opening mapping Wolverine’s journey through a century of warfare, is epic, breathless and brilliant.

But the script is simply disastrous. Overloaded with murky, forgettable characters familiar only to fans of the comics, it’s shot through with both narrative inconsistencies and laughably functional dialogue.

A host of talented supporting players, including Liev Schreiber and Ryan Reynolds, are unforgivably wasted, while crude visual references to both ‘Watchmen’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ only highlight the film’s failed ambitions. With some dire blue-screen effects, dizzying tonal instability and a total absence of suspense or originality, ‘Wolverine’ is something of a disaster.

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