I haven’t been this disappointed by a film since the new Indiana Jones, and my disappointment provoked so much fury then that I’m a little bit nervous about venting my frustration about X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Nonetheless, so lame was this woeful attempt to milk a franchise that I can’t contain myself: so here goes…
Wasn’t Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) supposed to be a short, gruff, angry, violent killer who goes psycho a lot and stabs people? I know he’s a good guy, and his character is a bit deeper than just that, but I’m sure he was once a soldier who revelled in his talent at slaughter? Nobody seems to have told director Gavin Hood and credited writer David Benioff. Between them they seem to think that he’s a big handsome fella, who’s loving, jovial and very very vulnerable. Plus he walks around topless a lot. I mean A LOT. And when the lust for vengeance pulses through his veins, he seems to calm down and act normally again pretty fucking quickly.
Rather than explain how Wolverine became who he is in the original trilogy, XMO just reduces everything to a single story of deceit centring on the evil plans of Colonel Striker (Danny Huston) and a ‘warring brothers’ story between Wolverine and Sabretooth (Liev Schrieber). Essentially, it seems that these guys think that he is not a character, a product of the way he was treated as a mutant and the horrors he has experienced as a result, he is just a malleable plot tool to be twisted to fit around a bunch of marketable action sequences and gratuitous topless scenes. And that sucks.
Logan will one minute be a hard-nosed killer, and then suddenly he’ll drop his weapons and take the moral high-ground in a move clearly devised by edgy execs pandering to the pervading liberal atmosphere among audiences at the moment. This new, flaky character is played off against Sabretooth who embraces his destructive talents with a fervour that should be equally strong in his brother. By reducing the bloodthirsty side of Logan his quest for revenge just doesn’t work properly.
But the needless modification go much further, even the defining scenes look as if they’ve been excessively tinkered with. There is no flow at all. I could almost hear the director’s instructions in every scene. Wolverine runs though the forest, “You’re frightened, confused, you’ve been a civilian too long, good.. good. CUT” Next scene: “OK you’ve seen the body, you’re hurting, you’re conflicted, this one’s big! Cue awful Hollywood archetypes number four, and ACTION!”, Logan: “No, no…” cut to overhead shot, “NOOOOOOOOO!”. It’s the same in the big finale, disjointed moments that are supposed to develop the tortured character that Logan becomes just look like a clunky collection of sickeningly contrived and poorly executed bullshit.
But what’s really a kick in the balls is that the action sequences these lame scenes prop up aren’t even good! Pitiful template chases are followed by distinctly ordinary fight scenes that are supported by CGI so bad that I was tempted to walk up to the screen with a marker pen and touch up the edges on Wolverines adamantium claws. And the fight with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) that’s crowbarred in at the end finishes almost laughably.
However, worse than the disappointing action sequences and the poor storytelling was the obvious gearing of the film to make room for more franchise-expanding films. Characters are introduced in as simple and unfulfilling ways as you might expect from a re-boot, they amount to little more than a series of mini-trailers for their appearances in later films pepper the story.
Sure Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and Deadpool have their parts to play, but their introductions are so insubstantial and superflous that could easily have been forsaken for some much needed (and deserved) substance in the stories that supposedly define Wolverine and Sabretooth.
Comic book fans would be particularly disappointed by the introduction of long-time favourite Gambit: a mediocre attempt at a stylised scene which saw him pitted against Wolverine and real life poker pro Daniel Negraneau in a game of Texas Hold’em. Not quite what we have been waiting for with three movies.
The nail in the coffin of the movie comes, fittingly, at the end. The justification for Logan’s memory loss is as crappy and unimaginative as it is badly shot. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a scene was tagged on at the end of the credits that was clearly only added to lure those naughty few who nabbed the download into some paying seats. It’s not worth the wait at all. A bit like the whole movie actually…
This article was first posted on April 28, 2009