X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The fourth film of any franchise generally exhausts whatever creativity remains, but by doubling back to the origin story of Wolverine, X-Men Origins gives the series a new lease on life. Indeed, there’s the danger that the movie has too much going on. In the prologues alone, we get the death of Wolverine’s father; a Watchmen-esque credits sequence that follows Logan (Jackman) and brother Victor (a.k.a. Sabretooth, played by Schreiber) from the Civil War to Vietnam; and the boys’ initiation into a special task force under William Stryker (Huston), whose only superpower is smarm. By the time Logan settles down to life as a Canadian lumberjack (note to Jackman’s personal trainer: take some time off), it almost feels like time for the closing act.
Last seen mastering the obvious in the bland topical thriller Rendition (2007), director Hood doesn’t mine the allegorical vein of X-Men that Bryan Singer chose to foreground in the first two films. But he does prove adept at pacing (and perhaps a tad too enthusiastic with the swooping helicopter shots). X-Men Origins is relentlessly eager to please, and bits like the belated surfacing of Gambit (Kitsch) seem more like in-jokes than genuine dramatic developments. But the final action set piece, set on the rim of a cooling tower at Three Mile Island, is exciting enough to raise a question: Why has no one thought of this before?