Hugh Jackman continues his superhero role as Wolverine, with co-stars Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth and Danny Huston as William Stryker. This one hour and 47 minute sci-fi action film reprises main character roles while squeezing in a few new mutants into this continuing X-Men film series. Great fighting sequences, blinding chases and, of course, important character tie-ins permeate the film.
Hugh Jackman still has his star-making physical presence from the 2000 X-Men film and this time his hair isn’t a distraction thanks to a more natural look. Jackman builds the Logan/Wolverine character as an admirable hero who stands up for what’s right no matter what threats he faces. After the initial goal of taking “care of anyone who gets in our way” with close brother and fellow mutant Victor Creed, Logan understands human nature over the years while contending with several powerful mutants.
The plot, beginning in 1845, has great action sequences and engaging themes (the power of being a mutant…of even being indestructible) that make good impressions, but overly familiar hero/villain archetypes clutter up the flow. Wolverine encounters endless cowboy-like showdowns and staged face-offs after a chaotic beginning montage spanning through all the major U.S. wars. Logan eventually finds his limits to violence, but Victor, played by Schreiber, can’t satisfy his insatiable hunger for death. “That’s enough,” Logan shouts at Victor, who continues firing on unseen targets. The frequent violence is savage at times, but largely bloodless to retain the popular PG-13 rating.
Schreiber does a great job physically and emotionally as Victor Creed, a.k.a. Sabretooth (originally played by Tyler Mane in X-Men), but must suffer through some awkward dialogue near the end where he tempts Wolverine to “embrace the other side.”
Huston plays Stryker (played by Brian Cox in X2: X-Men United) who has limitless resources and assets – the only elements that keep him close to the mutants. Stryker exploits that dependence for his own personal gain. Logan understands Stryker’s motives best while Victor adheres to the system of violence. “This is what we do,” Sabretooth says to Wolverine. “What are you going to do, run until they figure out how to do it to you?”
The supporting cast has some familiar character appearances mixed with a few disappointments. Musician Will.i.Am is woefully miscast as John Wraith while other mutant characters include The Blob, Bolt, and Agent Zero. Texas native Lynn Collins plays Kayla Silverfox, Wolverine’s love interest, while Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) makes a good impression as the popular Gambit (maybe he’ll have his own movie too).
Ryan Reynolds co-stars as the motor-mouthed Wade Wilson who backs up his boasting in one explosive sword scene. Scott Adkins’ amazing physical performance as Weapon XI is probably the best costumed fighter role since Ray Park’s stint as the red-faced Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I. You could call this X-Men Episode I if filmmakers keep plot elements intact for the planned X-Men Origins: Magneto film… maybe even a Wolverine sequel.
Screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods have some easily predictable plot twists that underestimate the audience’s intelligence. A few situational events will jolt you and reinforce Stryker’s relentless pursuits, while redundant dialogue duplicating the obvious visuals definitely hurts the film.
The plot utilizes many elements from the previous X-Men film trilogy, as well as the original comics, to refresh your mind, then basically reveals character traits and related scenarios. Wolverine’s bad dreams and “bubbly” flashbacks seen in previous X-Men films prompt emotional connections to the vivid “creation” sequence, which, of course, focuses the most sensitive body parts as concentrated areas during this unique procedure that matches Logan’s physical characteristics perfectly.
Stay tuned after the ending credits for one of two bonus scenes, depending on which film print you see – one involving Wolverine while the other has Deadpool. South African native Gavin Hood directs the film which comes recommended with reservations and is rated PG-13 for violence, intense action, and some partial nudity.