X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Post  BoG on Tue Nov 11, 2014 1:03 am

The most popular X-Man gets his own film and full-blown history - some of this is based on the famous Origins comic book mini-series and reveals that Wolverine a.k.a. Logan a.k.a. James Howlett got his start way back in 1835 or so and was a sickly child who revealed his claws at the point that his foster father was killed. He then killed his supposed real father and went on the run with his half brother, who would grow up to be the equally formidable Sabretooth a.k.a Victor Creed (Liev Schrieber). There's a quick montage of images that show the two super-killers fighting in the Civil War, the World Wars and finally in the Vietnam War, when they finally go overboard on the violence; or, actually, Victor does, killing a superior officer. A firing squad does not work on them, so they're recruited by a shady military man named William Stryker (the bad guy in X2, but this time played by Danny Huston) for a special ops team - Team X - consisting of other mutants and ultra-killers (looks like Prof. Xavier and Stryker had the same ideas as far as creating names for teams).

The first mission we see these guys on has them breaking into some criminal's stronghold; Stryker is after some meteorite rock fragment. This shows us that just one team member (Ryan Reynolds in a small role as a sword-wielding killer who later becomes Deadpool) can easily take out a bunch of armed men. But, later, the team is shown killing innocents and this crosses the line for James Howlett, who walks off and changes his name to Logan, shown working as a lumberjack in Canada six years later, and with a new girlfriend named Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Even at this stage, all is not what it seems.  It seems that members of Logan's old team are being targeted and killed, by none other than his older brother, Creed, and Logan's girlfriend becomes the latest victim. Unfortunately for Logan, as tough as he is, Creed is even tougher (like a bigger, meaner brother). This is why Logan, at Stryker's urging, elects to have the procedure to infuse his body with Adamantium and chooses his final alias, Wolverine - this way he would match or surpass Sabretooth.
Of course, someone like Stryker isn't to be trusted and this sets up the conflict for the remainder of the film: Wolverine quickly escapes and is on the run again, out for revenge against both Sabretooth and Stryker.  It's at this stage of the story that all the film's faults can be delineated: it's repetitive (Wolverine escapes and runs); it's derivative (back in 1985, the entertaining action thriller Commando had members of a former elite team being killed off); and it's awkward. This last is the biggest fault: the structure of such a story is better suited for a mini-series; there's at least 6 hours of material - a history of the first 130 years is compressed into the first 10 minutes of the film. What were Wolverine & Sabretooth doing in-between the wars, for example? The brevity of the presentation prompts such questions - it's quickly paced, no doubt, but it's also shorthand for what should be a long, epic tale. Even Wolverine's selection of his final code name is brushed over (is it because he saw a dead wolverine, killed by Creed, just before the operation? Or it's something to do with his girlfriend - I'm not sure).

Then there's the issue of Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), who is the one guy who had managed to somehow escape Stryker's secret detention facility on an "island" somewhere (no details are given as to how he escaped) and whom Wolverine finds in New Orleans. For whatever reason, Gambit had never been concerned about someone tracking him down until Wolverine showed up and, indeed, no one had bothered to find Gambit, even though he knows the location of this secret "island."  What gives?  

In addition, even though all this sprang from the previous X-Men films, hardly any of this has anything to do with the X-Men - that all came later in the chronology of Wolverine's life, so it's kind of risky and misleading to set up this film as part of the X-Men franchise (a very young Cyclops does show up here and the climax does have an X-Men connection - but it's kind of tagged on). There are also problems with some contradictions created before and after: in the later X-Men:Days of Future Past, for example, Logan is shown to be a civilian in 1973, involved with the local mob. According to this origin film, he was a soldier in 'Nam and immediately went to work for Stryker afterwards. Then, let's not even bring up the 1st X-Men film - did Sabretooth behave like a long lost brother in that one?  There's a fairly spectacular finale, including a lengthy battle in which Wolverine & Sabretooth are forced to team up, but as is usual these days, it's too long.  BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10
Wolverine Trivia: in the chronology for Wolverine on film, his last scene here takes place about 15 years before he shows up next in X-Men (2000); it's mentioned that Wolverine's operation cost half-a-billion dollars; this makes Wolverine a $500 Million Dollar Man. One other member of Team X was Fred Dukes a.k.a. The Blob, who was introduced way back in the 3rd issue of the X-Men (1963) comic book series.  Also, the little known epilogue scene during the end credits, kind of grotesque as is common these days:
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