The first of this year’s big summer blockbusters sees Hugh Jackman return as the superhero in a claws-out, rampaging, action-packed prequel to the much loved X-Men movie trilogy.
This dark, brooding tale of revenge sets Jackman’s cigar-chewing Logan, (aka Wolverine), up against a mad scientist, ferocious freaks, and a violent and unpredictable big brother, Victor Creed, (Liev Shrieber), with a serious chip on his shoulder.
The opening sequence takes us back to 1840s Canada where a surprisingly brutal family tragedy inextricably links the brother’s futures.
Young James Logan and his half brother Victor Creed (aka Sabretooth) then take us on an epic journey through most of the major military conflicts of the past century. Having conveniently stopped ageing, the brothers claw their way, growling and snarling side by side, through a striking montage of wars from Civil to Vietnam.
In time something breaks in Creed and he starts slaughtering humans, including his commanding officer, which leads to the brothers trussed up and awaiting execution by firing squad.
Recruited by mad scientist General Stryker (Danny Huston), who’s hell-bent on organizing an army of mutants, the brothers become part of a covert-ops unit called Team X and eventually find themselves in Nigeria, taking part in a grisly campaign that’s racking up an impressive body count.
Fed up with the violence, Wolverine has had enough of inflicting death and destruction, and deserts the mission. Six years later, he’s settled down (shirtless) to the life of a lumberjack in Canada with a love interest, Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Unfortunately – and quite predictably – it turns out that his military past isn’t finished with him and inevitably, along comes Victor, spoiling for blood. The rest is mayhem.
The film quickly establishes a sense of drama and conflict between the brothers and this arc continues to sweep through most of the film. It also helps explain once and for all part of the broken-hearted rage that drives Jackman’s bulging, testosterone fuelled alpha mutant.
Filmed in large part in New Zealand, the country’s spectacular scenery increases the scale of the film and plays a large part in the film’s best non-fighting sequence, where an unbelievably muscled, dripping wet Jackman, bounds out of a tub (where he just had an indestructible metal alloy surgically grafted onto his skeleton) and takes off stark-naked to go jumping over waterfalls and dashing across fields.
Hugh Jackman is hugely appealing and charismatic in a role he was born to play, and helps ensure that even if you’re not a superhero fan, Wolverine won’t disappoint. As well as the insanely built hero, there are any number of gloriously over the top action scenes alongside a decent script and phenomenal visual effects.
Director Gavin Hood delivers an intelligent, brooding movie that takes an in depth look at our mutton-chopped hero and his unique situation.
This is a not to be missed, adrenaline-pumping blockbuster that will impress as much as it will entertain. And watch out for Jackman’s claws. They are a marvel.