X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Will I Am, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Dominic Monaghan

Directed by: Gareth Hood

Rating: 1 2 3 4

The lovely Hugh Jackmans as Wolverine

After the somewhat disappointing SFX-fest that was X-Men 3, I wasn't expecting much of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (except the chance to ogle Hugh Jackman in the buff – always worth the price of a cinema ticket). But surprisingly, it's really quite good.

A splendid title sequence establishes our hero and his elder brother Victor as beast-clawed mutants fighting back-to-back through the American Civil War, two World Wars and Vietnam, before being hand-picked for an elite military squad by one Colonel William Stryker (not Brian Cox this time but Danny Huston). Sickened by the base deeds he's expected to perform, Logan (Hugh Jackman) quits in disgust, to retire to the Rockies and live in connubial bless in a log cabin on a mountain top, whilst working as the world's least safety-conscious lumberjack. And he's okay – until his ex-boss pitches up, followed quickly by his now completely psychotic brother (Liev Schreiber – finally in a role he can sink his teeth into, so to speak).

Wolverine and fellow mutants in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Next thing our hero knows, his girlfriend winds up dead, he swears revenge, gets an adamantium skeleton, goes awol… and, well, yes, the story is pretty thin and stupid, and full of more holes than the beast brothers' victims. However, it's punctuated by short sharp shocks of explosive action, held together by personalities you can actually care about (sort of) and peopled with cool new characters like Will I Am's blaxploitation hustler John Wraith and the laid back New Orleans cardsharper Gambit (Taylor Kitsch), which all in all makes it really rather fun.

Of course the real star of the show is Hugh Jackman's unnaturally buff bod, which is voyeuristically displayed at every conceivable moment (occasionally looking somewhat as if it's been Tangoed) but the Aussie hunk does put heart and soul (as well as pecs and biceps) into the role – even if he's working with some pretty limited material at times.

But what the hell – stifle your inner film critic and enjoy this movie for what it is: an action-packed adventure about a reluctant antihero with a furry face, buns of steel and a skeleton of a made up mineral from space. The X-factor and the fwoargh factor – what more could you want?

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