Dir. Gavin Hood. USA. 2009.

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The much anticipated spin-off and origin story of X-Men's most famous member is brought to the big screen by the award winning director of 'Tsotsi'.
The film starts like any origin story should, years away from the time we recognise the character to come from.  Whilst, X-Men took place in the present day in a parallel universe where mutants inhabit the earth; hiding from the prejudices that may become apparent from humans meaning X-Men are a scared minority to the masses they are far more powerful than.  
Origins begins in 1845 as Jimmy Logan accidentally kills his father and 'biological' father - you can see how he has father issues and problems with authority - and so he goes on the run with his brother Victor, and they keep running in a pre-credit sequence that encapsulates the major wars with America's involvement with the two boys now grown into Hugh Jackman (Logan) and Liev Schrieber (Victor) as they fight the South, the Germans (twice) and the Vietcong. They do not age and soon enough Victor's lust for killing gets them into trouble. This leads to the introduction of Gen. William Stryker (Danny Huston, taking over from the much stockier Brian Cox) who enlists their help for a special ops force for other men with 'special privileges'. This includes Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Wraith (Will.i.am) in the group who are taken to Nigeria, for a job that ultimately leads to Logan leaving the group throwing away his dog-tags as if to emphasise the point and throw away his responsibility.
Go six years forward to the Canadaian Rockies, where he now lives with a hot schoolteacher and Stryker reappears warning him that someone is killing the old gang and they might be coming this way. This man is Victor, played with all teeth a glistening and genuine menace by Schreiber in a surprising turn, and he certainly gets Logan's attention.
Then follows the origin story and how Logan gained his adamantium bodysuit and distinctive claws and henceforth became known as Wolverine.
The action set pieces are professionally handled by Hood, who after Tsotsi and 'Rendition', is certainly a talent to keep track of - but sometimes the CGI gets a little out of hand, in spite of the impressive sight of Wolverine taking out a helicopter by himself.
But it is the script where the film comes short; removing the wit that Wolverine possessed in the initial X-men trilogy with a quip for every new death, here he is definitely the wronged man, and isolated in coming to terms with his new powers; more hardened than light hearted.  With some awful lines saved for Victor ('Look what the cat dragged in'.) and some plot points coated over, such as Stryker shrinking 6 inches so Brian Cox can play him some 25 years later, and the lack of us knowing that the action is actually taking place in the 1970s until we realise the location of the film's climax.  
Also thrown in for good measure is when Wolverine helps a young Scott Summers/Cyclops escape the prison Stryker has placed him in; and Scott must lead the rag tag group of mutants to safety. As I watched this, I said to myself all we need here is a bald man to walk round the corner with a school bus ready to take them to safety.  It was not a bus but a helicopter ties up loose ends nicely.
A shame that such a lightweight script should be reserved for a heavyweight comic book character.  The work Brian Singer did in the first two films of the trilogy will not be forgotten nor tainted by this work. But the origin film will certainly taint Wolverine's legacy.
Jamie Garwood

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