X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Year: 2009
Production Co: Seed/Marvel/Donner Company
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Gavin Hood
Producer: Hugh Jackman/John Palermo/Laura Shuler Donner
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Will.i.am, Dominic Monaghan, Patrick Stewart
This is the closest Hugh Jackman's come to a passion project. After the change in director badly damaged the X-Men franchise, with hack Brett Ratner flubbing the third installment, Jackman went on the marketing trail, drumming up support and eventually producing the origin story of the character who made him a star, Wolverine.

Jackman put his money where his mouth is too, shepherding the movie through his own production company, appointing surprise choice Gavin (Tsotsi) Hood as director and going on the publicity trail himself to talk it up.

Sadly Wolverine proves how hard it is to break free of comic book movie conventions. You'll find yourself pre=empting events and even lines before they happen, so set in stone is the template. It follows a rhythm of big opening, sluggish midsection propped up by contrived plot developments and spectacular, destructive climax set on iconic structure that's as predictable as the verse=chorus-verse-chorus of a rock song. If you've sat through a comic book adaptation in the last ten years, you'll find yourself either pleased or slightly bored to be in such familiar territory.

The movie is essentially the question of what lies in Logan/Wolverine's (Jackman) shadowy past where the government replaced his bones with adamantium. We learn he's a century and a half old and has put his indestructible nature and animal fighting instinct to use in every major conflict since the American Civil War. When he breaks away from the top secret mutant assassin squad led by shady colonel Stryker (Huston) and which includes his unhinged brother Victor/Sabretooth (Schrieber), he settles down in rural Canada with his lady.

Of course we know his past will catch up with him, and when former colleagues start getting slaughtered at the hands of Sabretooth, Stryker shows up to ask for Wolverine's help in bringing his brother under control.

When Logan's dragged back into the conflict after Sabretooth kills his wife, he lets the animal nature out, swearing revenge and agreeing to the adamantium skeleton and claws so he can beat his more powerful nemesis. But there's more to Stryker's plan than meets the eye, and when Wolverine goes on the lam to get his revenge, everybody's after everybody and some well choreographed scraps look great in a movie that unfortunately just fails to really impress.

Ironically Jackman feels less than comfortable as such a familiar character at times, and while this isn't the sort of flick that calls for Shakespearian drama (although watch for the cameo from a Shakespearian actor very familiar to the series), his real talent has been in getting this to the screen. It will undoubtedly fill Fox coffers during May, but it will stay with you only as long as the drive home from the cinema.

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