It’s obvious that the creators of this comic-book fantasy believe fans have been riddled with curiosity about what made a conflicted man named James Logan into Wolverine, Marvel’s angriest mutant superhero. So they’re offering explanations, if not answers.
Back in 1845 in Canada’s Northwest Territories, young Jim Logan (Hugh Jackman) discovers that when he becomes furious, his hands sprout retractable bone-claws; not surprisingly, his brawling, older half-brother, Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber), has similar, but different powers. Realizing they’re ageless and indestructible, the beastly boys run off to fight in the American Civil War, both World Wars and Vietnam. And they’re recruited by unscrupulous Maj. William Stryker (Danny Huston) to form Team X, functioning as ‘secret’ weapons for the U.S. Government, along with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), John Wraith (Will.i.am) and Fred J. Dukes (Kevin Durand).
But in Namibia, Logan rebels and takes off to become a lumberjack in the Canadian wilderness, setting up idyllic housekeeping on a remote mountain top with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), a storytelling schoolmarm. When Victor (now Sabretooth) hunts him down and kills Kayla in a rampage, Logan yowls revenge and agrees to Stryker’s ‘experiment’ to adhere ‘adamanitum’ alloy to his skeleton. But when he realizes Stryker also intends to erase his memory, he bursts from captivity and frees other captured mutants to join what will become Patrick Stewart’s opposing forces.
Taking a brawny bite out of the “Australia” debacle, Hugh Jackman gives good growl to Liev Schreiber’s snarl, both actors rising above the confusing, cliché-riddled script by David Beniff (“The Kite Runner”) and Skip Woods (“Swordfish”), directed frenetically by South Africa’s Gavin Hood (“Rendition,” “Tsotsi”). In addition, the digital effects are not only boring but repetitious, particularly in the New Orleans sequence. Even the climactic fight at Three Mile Island, which is where Stryker has been hiding mutants, is banal and quite uninspiring for a popcorn picture.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is an inconsistent, surly 6, filled with superfluous sound ‘n’ fury but signifying very little.