(Originally published May 6, 2009)
like superhero movies, revenge movies, and movies with swordfighting. Smoosh all three of those together and the end product will probably come out looking a lot like this summer’s most-anticipated action film – “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” I had the chance to take in this film last weekend after the Regional Invitational debate tournament, and figured I really ought to put down a few of my thoughts while I was still thinking about it. (If you were tagged in this review, it’s because you were either there with me at the movie theater, or because I thought you might be interested in hearing about it)
Since I haven’t seen any of the other “X-Men” films, I was a clean slate (or, as my debate friends might say, a tabula rasa :-P) going into “Wolverine.” I’d seen the explosive trailer that was released earlier this year, and was quite intrigued…especially considering that the character of Wolverine was an influence on the creation of “Soul Flare.”
The film follows the titular character, Wolverine (played compellingly by Hugh Jackman), a mutant with the ability to extend razor-sharp bone protrusions from his forearms. He and his half-brother, Victor Creed, are endowed with unnatural longevity, and fight in several major wars before being conscripted into an elite fighting force led by a certain Colonel William Stryker. Stryker’s fighting force is comprised of powerful mutants like Wolverine and Victor…but without any form of moral restraint. Eventually, Wolverine refuses to take part in the massacre of innocent Africans and disappears into the night.
He reappears six years later, working as a lumberjack. Stryker offers him the chance to return to his old job and track down his missing brother Victor. Wolverine refuses…only to find to his horror that Victor has embarked upon a bloody crusade of vengeance against his former companions, even going so far as to murder Wolverine’s lover. In despair, Wolverine accepts Stryker’s offer and becomes a powerful superhero – his bones strengthened with adamantium so as to render him virtually impervious to attack.
Things really take off after that.
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” has some of the best effects and action sequences I’ve seen in any movie, ever. There is a lot of combat and action, but it is seamlessly integrated and beautifully choreographed. Within the first 20 minutes, viewers have watched mutants storm the beaches of Normandy, deflect bullets with twin swords, and take out security guards in a blur of kung fu flips and gunfire. Despite the over-the-top nature of many pivotal scenes, the action is never disorienting or unpleasant. The final battle, which takes place atop a nuclear reactor, is truly dazzling.
Fortunately, there’s more than just eye candy in “Wolverine.” The film is well acted and has some thought-provoking moments, including a few solemn reflections on the nature and consequences of revenge. Although not quite as rich in complexity and symbolism as last year’s “The Dark Knight”, “Wolverine” still contains a powerful and ultimately positive message.
You may not want to bring your younger siblings to this one…the “Matrix”-esque violence, although almost completely bloodless, is still pretty brutal. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend “Wolverine” to nearly all of my friends – both as a great action movie and a potent meditation on the nature of justice.
A great summer action movie. Certainly worth watching.
Normalized Score: 6.9