Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

‘Wolverine’ got robbed in more ways than one

Brothers Victor (Liev Schreiber), who has long nails and a bad attitude, and Logan (Hugh Jackman), who has retractable claws, are recruited to join an elite task force.

Brothers Victor (Liev Schreiber), who has long nails and a bad attitude, and Logan (Hugh Jackman), who has retractable claws, are recruited to join an elite task force.

Gavin Hood, the director of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was understandably upset when an uncompleted version of the film was leaked online weeks before the release date.

The leak raised legitimate concerns about piracy and its effects, as well as the perils of evaluating a work still in progress. (I did not see the leaked movie.)

Ironic, then, that the final version of the film seems unfinished. A mix of solid action and an underused cast, with star Hugh Jackman left shouldering the burden of bad lines and forced emotion, it leaves you longing for more editing and a tighter story.

Jackman, reprising his role from the “X-Men” trilogy as the title character, remains a good fit in this prequel. Athletic, graceful, he moves with a confidence befitting a mutant whose remarkable healing powers have seen him through several wars. His physicality is Wolverine’s strength. Jackman’s emoting, not so much.

Still, Jackman, ever game, does what he can. As with any origin story, there’s a lot of ground to cover in a relatively short time.

But what’s really needed here is more screen time for the likes of Taylor Kitschas Gambit and, especially, Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. The latter is particularly good, the only things faster than his mouth are his hands when they have swords in them. Seen early in the film almost single-handedly defeating a small army of thugs (including slicing a bullet in half in mid-air; neat trick), his commander, Col. Stryker (Danny Huston), says he’d be a great soldier if he could just shut up.

Unfortunately, Hood and writers David Benioff and Skip Woods make him do exactly that: The character disappears until … well, let’s just say a lot later.

The film begins in the 19th century, with Logan, the man who will become Wolverine, as a sickly boy. A family tragedy – that’s putting it mildly – lands him on the lam with his older brother, Victor. Hood morphs them from an escape through the woods to various battlefields in history, until they’re court-martialed and executed. Except the execution doesn’t take.

Stryker recruits Logan and Victor, now played by Liev Schreiber, to an elite task force with various powers. Victor, for instance, has long nails, fangs and a bad attitude. And Logan, of course, has retractable claws. Victor has more of a taste for this kind of mercenary work than his brother, so after a particularly unpleasant mission, Logan quits the business and takes up working as a logger in his native Canada and living with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). This blissful life is interrupted when former members of the team turn up dead. Stryker comes calling and, in a more eventful way, so does Victor. (Cue Jackman’s emoting.)

Fueled by revenge, Logan agrees to allow Stryker to perform a procedure on him as part of the Weapon Xprogram that will make him practically indestructible – a choice about which Stryker quickly has second thoughts. It all leads to a conspiracy involving other mutants that shouldn’t be revealed, not because it would spoil things, but because it just confuses them. After far too many last-second, out-of-the-blue rescues, Logan has fully inhabited the Wolverine character and, by either a neat trick or a cheat, depending on your point of view, whether all this aligns with your idea of his back story won’t really matter.

While packed with effects and action, without the attention to story and emotional investment present in films like “The Dark Knight” and “Ironman,” “Wolverine” ultimately doesn’t rise above its comic-book roots. For the fanboy, that may be fine. For the rest of us, it’s not quite enough.



Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity

Length: 107 minutes

Playing at: Opens Friday at Century 20 Park Place, Century 20 El Con Mall, Century Park 16, Foothills, DeAnza Drive-in, Tower Theatres at Arizona Pavilions, Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18, Century Theatres at the Oro Valley Marketplace

Grade: C+



Optimism: That’s the ticket for Jackman

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service