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X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

title: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
year: 2011
cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds
rating: ***1/2

Wolverine, the tough maverick from the X-MEN comics and films, gets his own flick, beginning with a darkly-lit prologue leading to an opening credit sequence where we see our hero, Logan, and his older brother Victor fighting in every American war: leading up to Vietnam where the real story begins, as the boys join a group of special-op mutants, led by the mysterious Stryker. As Logan aka Wolverine parts company with the troop, not wanting to partake in a pointless murder, he ventures alone to Canada, working as a lumberjack. Here’s where the best action resides as Wolverine dodges death by a quicker, more lethal adversary… who’s also his brother – and eventually gets the surgery to make him into the steely-gutted character we all know... thus his real troubles (and some terrific chase scenes) begin. Then, the third act is purely revenge-driven: as Wolverine seeks Stryker with the aid of the surviving members of his former troop. But Victor, played with venomous gusto by Liev Schreiber, wants his own closure, making him a great secondary villain, more action-based than the big boss played with haunting precision by Danny Huston, turning tricks up his sleeve and a plot to rid the world of mutants. Playing out like a fast-paced, gritty Western combined with a Steve McQueen-era war adventure, here's a lean rogue thriller that continuously delivers. And even when it basks in self-absorbed melodrama, it always returns to the kind of stuff comic book fans, or anyone who loves non-stop action, paid to see.
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