X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (**3/4) - Starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Will.i.am, Lynn Collins, Dominic Monaghan, Kevin Durand and Taylor Kitsch.
Directed by Gavin Hood.
I won't pretend I've read too many comics, but I've read more issues of X-Men than any other titles out there, and of the X-Men, Gambit was my favorite. I'm glad he's finally able to show up, but if Taylor Kitsch was trying for a Cajun accent, I only caught it on a syllable here and there. But they do give Gambit some style, and I still found myself wishing he'd be able to show up in another X-Men movie.
Oh, wait, this is Wolverine's movie. Well, it's better than X-Men 3. It's a prequel, so some characters are recast with younger actors, although they've changed some of the events that allegedly happened before. In the first X-Men movie, Sabretooth was a 7-foot guy who never talked, just roared. Here he's the chatty, intelligent Liev Schreiber.
Wolvy and Sabretooth, aka James and Victor, are brothers - kids - in the 1840's when they discover their powers. They grow up to be Jackman and Schreiber for the Civil War, so they age normally until they hit about 40 and then stop? We see them have fun fighting WWI, WWII and eventually the Vietnam War, when Victor goes nuts and starts killing US soldiers. The two are sentenced to death by firing, but since both heal really, really fast, this doesn't actually kill them.
Enter Major Stryker (played by Brian Cox in X2, but he's been youthified to Danny Huston here). Stryker has a program that will allow them to really use their powers for good. Here, they team up with guys who will eventually be known as Deadpool, Kestrel, Bolt, Blob, and Agent Zero, but here they're just called Wade, John, Bradley, Fred and David. (Three of them are eventually called by their mutant names, but I had to ask someone who the other two were.)
Stryker's team engages in nefarious activity, and so James, now called Logan, quits the team. A few years Stryker catches up to him in Canada, where he warns him someone is killing off the old team one by one. Prime suspect? Victor.
(Where does Gambit fit in? We're over an hour into the movie before he shows up.)
One major problem I had: how does Stryker know that adamantium bullets in Wolverine's brain will make him lose his memory? We know from the first three X-Men movies Wolverine has amnesia, so he has no memory of the events of this movie taking place.