X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a strange little film. This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing in the case of this film but it’s just strange. It seems as if in an hour and forty minutes that not very much story was told and whatever story was told wasn’t properly focused.
The opening sequence which takes place in the Northwest Territory of Canada in the 1840s is quite strong. Yet it barely keeps its head above water. What drives the first four to five minutes is the performance of Troye Sivan who was great despite little screen time. Michael-James Olsen as young Creed, aside from one line reading, was forgettable and the one line, delivered by Aaron Jeffery, which was supposed to be a surprise wasn’t and was poorly delivered. Aside from a conversation when Victor reveals his clear stand on what he thinks his powers on there is no examination of the impact of young Wolverine’s actions on him and where he went from there.
One of the hardest balancing acts a film has to do is when to age a character. Though it was predictable that once the opening title sequence began that Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber would appear and while it’s cutesy to see them going through the major American wars until we get to the present day of the tale a lot ends up getting glossed over and they’re almost immediately through their service and going to be executed, when that fails enter Stryker.
Stryker is rounding up a unit for a very covert task which you discover later and they’re off to Nigeria in search of Adamantium, which the team in unaware of they are just doing a job. Wolverine is not having it and leaves.
He goes back home. He lives in a cabin with Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins) and in their most intimate moment lies an example of the problem with the film. She tells him of a native legend of the moon and a creature, a wolverine, being separated and it serves its purpose, like it or not, and it’s over only it’s not because it’s flashed back to twice; once in audio, in short order thereafter. Flashbacks of this kind are typically only necessary when you have a complicated plot or want to highlight a twist and this fell into neither. Logan sitting on his bed and looking stressed could look just as effective without it, more so in all likelihood.
There then comes the unnecessary scene where Logan nearly attacks a jerk on the road because he won’t move his car. The plot that ensues of Wolverine on his way to try and find Stryker and seek his revenge on his terms isn’t unnecessary it just could’ve unfolded quicker perhaps. Did the Blob really need to lead to Gambit? Either could’ve had all the information. It was a very odd mix of action scenes that didn’t necessary have a lot of kinetic energy or the highest stakes and almost completely forsaking character.
It says Wolverine on the poster, he needs to have an antagonist which is Stryker and his other struggle is with Creed. The other characters are kind of like window-dressing it’s fun and fine but doesn’t really accomplish much. The shock that’s supposed to be delivered at the end, seeing Kayla alive when she’s supposed to be dead, doesn’t really hold much weight. In fact, Stryker killing the general is slightly more surprising but still not jaw-dropping. It’s a little strange that she had to say so little to Logan to be forgiven when her character are Logan’s are so underdeveloped, which is saying something when this is the 4th X-Men movie.
Recent articles about the Wolverine sequel have quoted producers as saying that it’s their “responsibility to remain true to the source material.” Which would be good because this was neither like the original three or the comics and if you’re going to change things like that, of course, that’s their prerogative and there’s little that can be done about it but they could’ve been executed this tale differently and better than they did.