Wolverine disappointed, and that’s even with already low expectations.
It started out well enough (but for a goofy child screaming in rage at the sky). The opening credits were very cool, detailing James (Wolverine) and Victor’s participation in every major war since the late 1800s. Then it progressively got worse.
Here’s the main problem: they tamed Wolverine. In the X-Men movies, he was the wild card. He was the animal, the one willing to go as far as needed. In Wolverine, James/Logan is caged and made to be the one with the conscience among men far more bloodthirsty. They took away the danger and unpredictability that makes Wolverine engaging.
I like Hugh Jackman. He seems like a decent person who really cares about the fans and it saddens me that he failed to deliver a movie that I know he wanted us to like. However, for Wolverine to have worked, it had to be darker than even The Dark Knight. Instead, they tried to make James/Logan a good man with flashes of savagery (instead of a savage with flashes of goodness). All this effectively did was transform Wolverine into the most boring character in his own movie who screams a lot. And I do mean a lot.
Moreover, what really disappoints is that they had the recipe figured out well enough in the first two X-Men movies. Wolverine wasn’t perfect in those, but he was far more accurate than what we got in this movie. In the X-Men movies, he was snarky, hateful, and downright rude. He might leave you in a fight to pursue his own goals. Heck, he might even punch you if you made him mad enough. In Wolverine, he’s the voice of reason among madmen, and that didn’t make one bit of sense to me.
Okay, I went off on a rant. Let’s get back to the movie. Some high points were Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson (Deadpool). Though Reynolds’ scenes were brief, his perfectly delivered sarcasm and physicality stole the show. I found myself far more interested in him than Wolverine. Kevin Durand’s lovable and detestable turn as Fred Dukes (Blob) thoroughly entertained as well. Finally, Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed (Sabretooth) delivered the only somewhat soulful performance in the film. Schreiber’s character had a depth and charisma that James/Logan sorely lacked. Keep in mind, it wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing, which was by-and-large what we got.
I’m afraid there were many low points. The dialogue was just plain goofy and poorly delivered. The clichés were numerous, including the walking away from the fire, walking into the sun, a motorcycle chase, and screaming into the sky (there was also a scene stolen almost exactly from First Blood). For such an expensive film, the special effects looked rather cheap. Furthermore, something about Wolverine’s claws didn’t seem right to me, and I later found out they were digital—go figure. Also, Wolverine was far too slavish to the X-Men movies when concerning William Stryker. He was fine as a plot tool in X:2, but I’d seen all I wanted of him in that film. Connecting his dots in Wolverine became distracting and the time spent on him should have been spent rounding out James/Logan. Finally, James/Logan was among the least interesting characters in the film. They took away his edge and tried to make him a romantic lead, yet they didn’t bother explaining how he and Kayla fell in love nor did they develop that relationship on screen enough for me to believe James/Logan actually loved her beyond simple words. This was a problem considering his “love” for Kayla was unbelievably his only motivation.
One last note about what didn’t work: I hated—HATED—their explanation for why Wolverine lost his memory. Adamantium bullets to the brain? Seriously? This premise insults basic logic. I’m supposed to buy that an adamantium bullet could pierce Wolverine’s adamantium skull? Why? Why wouldn’t they cancel each other out? He clanged his adamantium claws together and they didn’t slice each other in half, so why should a bullet be able to puncture his skull? Consequently, Stryker said the brain would heal, but his memories would not. What? What does that mean? That makes no sense at all. Also, we never saw the adamantium bullets pop out after the brain healed; are they still in there? Does Wolverine have two bullet holes in his adamantium-laced skull now? Even if the brain and the skull healed, the metal wouldn’t reform. I’m sorry if I’m nitpicking, but the loss of Wolverine’s memory is integral to the character and they offered such an unreasonable account for it … it frankly angers me. It’s just lazy writing and shows no respect for the audience.
***END SPOILER ALERT***
I understand they wanted to make a “popcorn” movie, but Wolverine tried to do so much with so many mutants and so little character development that it failed to entertain. As with any story, the audience must care about the character before they can get lost in the movie, no matter how action-packed, and Wolverine failed to hunt down my interest.