Plot: James Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and his half-brother, Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), are born with mutations that make them virtually invincible. Throughout the years, Creed & Logan serve in the Civil War, both World Wars, finally ending up in Vietnam, where the pair find themselves in front of a firing squad. Upon their survival, they're drafted into an elite unit run by the renegade General Stryker (Danny Huston), where they're paired with other mutants, including Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds). After a particularly brutal mission, Logan goes AWOL, and begins another life as a lumberjack in the Canadian Rockies, where he takes up with a comely school teacher, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). When she's murdered by a jealous Creed, Logan volunteers for Stryker's Weapon X program, which bonds an indestructible metal, adamantium, to his skeleton, making him even more invincible. After being double crossed by Stryker, Logan goes on the lam, in a mad quest to track down Creed.
Review: For anyone who bothered to read to plot summary, rest assured- I've revealed nothing that doesn't take place in the first thirty minutes of the film. This should give you some idea about how crammed this 108 minute movie is with plot- similar to X3. Unfortunately, the similarities do not end there, although this is a marginally better film.
Like X3, WOLVERINE seems like a rushed and tortured production. Much has been made about supposed troubles on the set, with director Gavin Hood supposedly clashing with Fox head Tom Rothman (who's responsible for Fox's pathetic slate of films over the last few years), and big chunks of the film being re-shot. Many of you have probably seen the work-print that's been making the rounds. For the record, I have not seen it, so I can't compare it to the finished version of the film.
One thing that does surprise me about this supposedly $150 million + film, is how low rent it seems. The film is loaded with dodgy CGI (Wolvie's early bone claws look particularly bad, as does the de-aging makeup on a surprise cameo near the end), is poorly lit, and the production design seems incredibly rinky-dink for a huge summertime blockbuster- especially compared to last year's lavish IRON MAN.
As for the action scenes- well, there's quite a few, but it's nothing you haven't seen before. I was expecting a huge showdown with Sabertooth at some point, but all we get are two brief scraps. The only really exceptional action scene is the big sequence featured in the trailer when Wolverine faces off against Agent Zero (one of his former mutant colleagues), and a heavily armed chopper. Sadly, this sequence comes less than an hour into the film, and really should have been saved until the end as everything else pales in comparison.
The only truly praiseworthy element of WOLVERINE is the cast, which is excellent. Jackman easily slips back into Wolverine's claws, and despite being close to forty, seems to be in the best shape of his life. I also really liked Liev Schreiber as Sabertooth, but I was disappointed by the fact that he`s offscreen for almost the entire midsection of the film. Danny Huston does a great job taking over for Brian Cox as Stryker, despite the fact that they don`t really resemble each other.
A lot of people have been buzzing about Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and while I liked him, his role is fairly small. The character is not used well in the film, particularly towards the end, and I`m sure fans of Deadpool`s will be quite upset at the way he`s wasted. Some have suggested that Reynolds might headline a spin-off film for the character, but the ending seems to close the door on that possibility.
As for Taylor Kitsch as Gambit, like Reynolds, he also has a fairly minor part, but at least the character is treated with respect. While he didn`t sound particularly Bayou-bred, he was fine in the role, and if that X-MEN ACADEMY film gets off the ground, I expect he`ll play a major role.
Overall, I can`t say I was too disappointed with WOLVERINE, as truthfully, I didn`t expect it to be very good. The buzz was so bad on the film that I knew it couldn`t possibly measure up to X2, which is still the gold standard of the series. While it wasn`t quite the train-wreck I expected, it was still a pretty average superhero flick, and definitely not a film I`ll be revisiting anytime soon.