ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (2009), Part One
In our latest series of super-hero movie reviews, Chris Sims and Matt Wilson take on the films chosen by you, the readers: X-Men!
Chris Sims: Hello everyone, and welcome back to ComicsAlliance's in-depth review series on the X-Men film franchise! This week, we're taking on the only installment that I hadn't already seen: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the 2009 solo spin-off starring Hugh Jackman as Marvel's most popular mutant. And after the mind-numbing disaster that was X-Men 3: The Last Stand, I'm not going to lie: I was pretty apprehensive.
Matt Wilson: It's one of those things, though. After you've been through one of the most mind-numbing (and believe us, our minds were numbed) experiences of your life, how could anything be worse? Though that question is also tempting fate, to a degree.Chris: And it was especially bad since even our readers, for whom our suffering is the delicious spice to their Monday morning routine, were warning us that this was going to be a rough one. But whether it was just lowered expectations or Wolverine actually being an underrated popcorn flick, I have to say I ended up really enjoying it. I mean, don't get me wrong, it goes right off the rails and frequently makes absolutely no sense, but in a kind of fun way.
Matt: People often encourage us to "turn your brain off" and enjoy movies. I'd argue that X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the ultimate turn your brain off movie, because, for really long stretches, there is absolutely nothing to think about. Unless you start thinking about the timeline. Then your brain might tie itself into a knot.
Chris: The background on this one should be obvious: even though it set a box office record for a memorial day opening and got two thumbs up from Ebert and Roeper (Ebert praised its absurdity, which I think is the only way to go), X-Men 3 was kind of a disaster. It left the franchise in a weird place, with half of the cast dead or de-powered and the other half in this weird limbo of stuff that would need to be addressed before anything could actually happen. Like, they're almost left having to go with an action movie starring Kelsey Grammer and Ellen Page if they did another sequel.
Matt: Lucky for them this movie had been in the works for a couple years before X-Men 3 even happened. It was pretty clear from the first two movies that Hugh Jackman's Wolverine was the breakout character of the series (go figure!), so a solo joint featuring him was kind of inevitable.
Chris: Right, and it makes perfect sense that it would come along and be the transition away from the core franchise that had shot itself right in the foot. It really set the tone for the kind-of, sort-of relaunch of First Class, too, in that it's a movie that took place entirely in the past. Now if only they'd actually remembered that for more than, what, three scenes?
Matt: Yeah, the title of this probably should have been X-Men Anachronism: Wolverine.
Chris: Just wait'll the computers show up, folks. In order to helm the project, Fox tapped Gavin Hood, a relatively unknown filmmaker who got his start doing educational films for the South African Department of Health. I wonder if any of them addressed the Mutant Menace?
Matt: This was before they started exclusively focusing on District 9, so maybe. Jackman, who was deeply involved in the production of this movie -- he even contributed to the script and ensured it got a PG-13 rating when the original writer, David Benioff, pushed for an R, which means there's a lot of bloodless stabbing here -- suggested Hood because the hero of his movie Tsotsi was a lot like Wolverine, he said. I haven't seen Tsotsi, so I'll take him at his word.
Chris: As for source material, this is very clearly meant as a direct prequel to X-Men 2, fleshing out the background of Wolverine's relationship with William Stryker, who sadly does not have Brian Cox's amazing accent in this film. There's also a bunch lifted from Grant Morrison's concept of the Weapon Plus program (in which "Weapon X" was revealed to be "Weapon Ten") and a bit from Origin, but beyond that, I'm not really sure if there's anything specific here. I've never been a big fan of Wolverine's solo adventures, for reasons that you put pretty well when we had a conversation with a friend about it, Matt.
Matt: Yeah, I said Wolverine always needs some kind of authority to rebel and/or rage against, and when he's the driving force of the action, he doesn't have that. That's why he always works best in ensemble stuff. Here, he's kind of got that in the form of Stryker, but Stryker's motivations are so cloudy it's hard to know the reasons anyone is doing anything. But we're sort of getting into plot details now. Maybe we should just get into the movie?
Chris: Sounds like a plan. Which means that we're one step ahead of the scriptwriters.
Chris: Our opening sequence this time around is directly lifted from Origin, a comic that I don't think ever should've happened. I don't actually think it's a bad comic, but revealing Wolverine's past takes away some of the mystery that makes him cool, especially if you make him a sickly Jane Austen character. Maybe that's just me?
Matt: It's a little weird. Just like it's weird that people lived such sepia-toned lives in the Northwest Territories back in 1845. It was a hard life.
Chris: Either way, this version of it is mercifully short, but also truncated in such a way that it doesn't really make sense. It's not really clear what the relationship is between James and Victor, or why James's real dad killed his fake dad, or... well, anything, really. Other than the money shot of Baby Wolverine popping his bone-claws for the first time, there just ain't much to it.
Matt: There's a distinct feeling that we have missed something. Why is Real Dad calling for someone named Elizabeth? Why is this all coming to a head now? Like, there's clearly supposed to be a dramatic impact to this stuff, but it all just lands with a thud. And all it really explains is that--like Origin--Wolverine as a kid isn't what you'd expect!
Chris: Yeah, but at least it's short. After a round of accidental patricide, Jimmy and Victor peace out of Canada, and we move right into a sequence that I actually think is really cool: grown-up Sabretooth (Liev Schrieber), Wolverine and Wolverine's truly beautiful head of hair fighting in a bunch of different wars over the course of the next hundred years.
Chris: It's a really nice way to play with the passage of time and show how they don't age in a way that's exciting and visually interesting.
Matt: It's cool, but are we supposed to believe that Jimmy (that's what Sabretooth calls Wolverine) and Victor ran all the way to the U.S. so they could become citizens and fight in every U.S. war? Because before, they were in one of the northernmost parts of Canada. This is the first of many questions this movie poses. Another one: Don't you think they'd earn one promotion at some point during their 100-plus years of military service?
Chris: I like to imagine that Wolverine was wanted for questioning in regards to the murder of his father, and got the hell out of Canada in order to avoid being put in Igloo Jail (or whatever they have up there) by the Mounties. As anyone who watched WWF in the '90s will no doubt recall, the Mountie always gets his man, but presumably even they have to stop at national borders. Besides, for two dudes who love fighting in wars, is there any better place to go than America in the 1860s?
Matt: True enough. Maybe they rode the rails. There are actually a few other neat things about this credits sequence. It explains their healing abilities without having to have someone say, "You have healing abilities," like Cyclops did in X-Men 3, and there's some kind-of-foreshadowing of Wolverine and Sabretooth's "back-to-back" fighting technique.
Chris: That "back to back" scene was the first thing that cracked me up in this movie, and considering that it comes after the first time we see the extremely questionable decision to have Sabretooth run like a cat on wires, that's saying something. All I could think about was the guitar solo in Damn Yankees' "Can You Take Me High Enough."
Matt: Sabretooth would have to be the Nuge of this pair, right?
Chris: Jack Blades sounds like an X-Man, right? Another thing done with a nice bit of economy is that while Wolverine's super-awesome at fighting wars (always for the historical Good Guys, naturally), Sabretooth just really likes killing people, which comes to a head when he starts slaughtering civilians during Vietnam. Of course, again, you'd think that would've come up at least once in the previous one hundred years.
Matt: As punishment, the GRRR Bros. are put in front of a firing squad, which they just shrug off. We've officially gone from a regular bullet to the head knocking adamantium-skulled Wolverine out to dozens of bullets not even bothering regular-skeleton Wolverine.
Chris: Well, to be fair, we don't actually see the results of the firing squad. All we know is that instead of dying, they get thrown in a box while someone calls up William Stryker so that he can deal with it. Which, you know, did nobody actually notice that Wolverine was getting shot in the face with cannonballs back at Gettysburg and not dying?
Matt: There's a lot of bullets Not Doing Much in this movie, though.
Chris: And one that does way too much, but we'll get to that.
Matt: Stryker has noticed now, though, and he's got a proposition for the Claw Crew: Join my special team with special privileges, The Black Eyed Peas!
Chris: For when the government has a problem that can only be solved by getting it started in here. We're introduced to the crew of not-so-merry mutants that we'll be following for most of the rest of the movie, including Agent Zero (better known to most of us as Maverick), the Blob, John Wraith, Merry Brandybuck and Ryan Reynolds, in the years between his eight-year stint at college and that time he dated Parker Posey, became a vampire hunter, and ultimately found a Green Lantern ring.
Matt: Van Wilder has led a wild life. Based on this scene and the next, I thought the Blob was actually Strong Guy from X-Factor, but later on it becomes evident that is not his deal. The banter in this scene makes me gleefully hopeful that we're going to get something akin to a Mutant Con Air, but quickly enough Ryan Reynolds stops talking about swords at his ex's wedding, Wolverine's air sickness settles and the team lands in Nigeria.
Chris: I actually like Kevin Durand as the Blob in this movie a lot. His slow, deadpan Southern accent is hilarious, especially when he explains his tattoo by saying "she wuz a gym-nast." Although how a guy with indestructible skin - which we find out less than five minutes after this scene - got a tattoo, we may never know.
Matt: This movie actually doubles up on enjoyable actors from Lost. Durand was a great evil mercenary dude on that show and Merry was their resident hobbit.
Chris: Durand also appears in Real Steel, which I think makes it an unofficial Wolverine sequel. For now, though, human boxing is alive and well as Team X engages in the time-honored comic book tradition of assaulting an enemy base like they're playing Contra for the NES. It's also worth noting that at this point, Wolverine has started going by "Logan" for reasons that are never addressed or explained.
Matt: According to the credits, Real Dad's last name was Logan, which would mean Victor's last name should also be Logan, but it is not. So what I'm offering is really no valuable information at all.
Chris: Point being, we see a bunch of dudes with super-powers killing a bunch of dudes without super-powers in visually interesting ways. It's actually a really solid action sequence, even if Maverick's little Nic-Cage-In-Face/Off gun flourishes and Ryan Reynolds' bullet-deflecting katanas are kind of hilariously over-the-top. Even for this movie.
Matt: I like this scene in the elevator just before the katana craziness, though it also is something of a trick to make us all think this movie will have way more of a sense of humor than it does.
Chris: Yeah, it kind of makes you think that we're going to get an entire movie of Team X wisecracking and going on missions and maybe turning on Stryker, which isn't what happens at all, and which probably would've been a way better movie. Ryan Reynolds was pretty hugely popular at this point, and Deadpool was certainly at the peak of his popularity, but they're only in it for a very short time. And for half of it, both actor and character are completely unrecognizable, which, again, we'll get to later.
Matt: I'll admit it, Chris: I like Ryan Reynolds and think he is funny in a smarmy sort of way. It's pretty doggone disappointing there's so little of him.
Chris: I do too! Hannibal King is my favorite part of Blade Trinity, and that movie has Parker Posey and Triple H in it. And a vampire Pomeranian.
Matt: So it turns out Stryker and the Strikers are raiding this compound to get a rock (of vibranium, presumably) from a warlord, who thinks it's nothing but a souvenir. He tells the team to head off to an inland village -- let's be real here, it's Wakanda -- so Reynolds can talk for a while in a vaguely African-sounding language.
Chris: I thought the same thing about it being vibranium since it has the same origin story -- if a rock can have an origin story -- but it's never really explained as anything other than the Missing Ingredient for Adamantium. Is that part of the recipe from the comics?
Matt: Yup, it's an alloy of steel and vibranium.
Chris: Real Steel?
Matt: Real Steel (and Vibranium, in an Alloy) is how this movie was released in some European countries.
Chris: Anyway, the interrogation doesn't go too well, and Stryker & Co. end up starting to kill a bunch of innocent people, at which time Wolverine decides that his Noble Samurai Code will not allow him to stick around with these jerks. He throws down his dog tags, and Sabretooth issues a threatening "you know we can't just let you walk away," immediately before just letting him walk away.
Matt: He has a Noble Samurai Code even though he almost certainly spent all of the last 130 or so years with Sabretooth. Like, every minute of it! So why this is all coming as too much to handle for him now, I just don't know.
Chris: First rule of Noble Samurai Code is to stick with your boys. Modern bro code (or bro-shido) is directly descended from these rules.
Matt: This may be a weird time to mention it, but there's a flash forward here, so why not. Wolverine's hair in this is much less Wolveriney than it was in the X-movies. It's just, you know, big hair. You think that was a request from Jackman?
Chris: He's still got the mutton chops, but yes, the hair has lost a lot of its signature '90s pointiness, which is weird when you consider how much of a crazy '90s Wolverine movie this really is. It's a lot more like the way Darwyn Cooke drew him in that one story where he hung out with Doop and wore a purple velvet suit.
Matt: Now that would be the basis for a great Wolverine movie. Anyway, as I said, we jump forward six years into the future -- which makes me think it should be, what, the mid-70s? Wolverine is now living in a cabin in the Canadian Rockies, shackin' up with Silver Fox and logging for a living.
Chris: And not wearing a lot of shirts. This whole thing with Silver Fox is all over the map, but for now, she's just his lady-friend who teaches school and occasionally complains about Wolverine wetting the bed because of nightmares. I honestly wish that was a joke, but it is not.
Matt: Wolverpeein', am I right? (And look, I know it was blood, not pee, on the bed, commenters, but I couldn't pass up "Wolverpeein'." You understand.)
Chris: This movie spends a lot of time on Wolverine's Happy Life for something that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to be thoroughly wrecked. I suspect that it might be product placement from the Canadian Ministry of Tourism, because there are a bunch of shots of very pretty wilderness involved.
Matt: It's lovely! Meanwhile, in Ohio, Merry/Charlie has left the boys from Drive Shaft for good and is getting by as a carnie, doing light bulb tricks. But Sabretooth is mad about it, so he kills him, along with all of our hopes of clean energy for decades to come.
Chris: This, by the way, is the first truly insane moment of the movie, from a super-power standpoint. This dude can control and create electricity with his brain, which by all rights makes him one of the most powerful people on the face of the Earth. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen should be straight up wrestling in his front yard to determine who gets to recruit him. And yet, he just cold gets dropped without Sabretooth even breaking stride.
Matt: Not to mention that Stryker is collecting mutant powers for reasons we'll get to later. And rather than grab him up, Sabretooth just offs him.
Chris: Seriously: How is this guy not just kept in a room in case they ever need to just instantly murder Iron Man? I realize I'm fixating on this, but come on.
Matt: Or, I guess given that this is supposed to be the time it is, Howard Stark.
Chris: Who even knows? Anyway, once he's been dealt with, Stryker shows up at Wolverine's job and tries to get him to sign back on for some more killin' work, but Logan's having none of it. He is now a lumberjack, and he's okay. Sleeping all night, working all day, you know the rest.
Matt: Stryker hands Wolverine a newspaper to prove that Pippin's best pal has been murdered, and it legitimately has the meanest headline ever written: "CIRCUS FREAK DEAD." One Woodward and Bernstein comes along and journalists all over think they can just say whatever they want!
Chris: The original headline was "GET A LOAD OF THIS A**HOLE," but they decided to show a little respect to the departed.
Matt: There's also a line here where Stryker observes that Wolverine "hasn't aged a day," which is a great way for the movie to point out that no one has aged at all. Stryker's got a little less Grecian Formula in his hair. That's it.
Chris: Wolverine also fesses up to Silver Fox - or Kayla Frost, or whatever -that his old Government pals are bugging him about work, and when she asks why, he finally manages to work in "Because I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do isn't very nice." On the one hand, it's a pretty awful hammering in of a catchphrase, but on another, I'm legitimately impressed that they went three and a half movies before dropping that one on us.
Matt: And it isn't growled through his teeth. It's so matter-of-fact, like he's talking about when his driver's license expires.
Chris: Which, when you throw it in with the fact that Wolverine drives an El Camino, actually makes me forgive it.
Matt: Logan and Kayla come up on two guys blocking a bridge with their trucks while they chat, and when Wolverine asks them to move, the guy goes straight to punching. He does not give a s**t! So much for polite Canadians!
Chris: Kayla defuses the impending fight by revealing that she has mutant powers of persuasion (or maybe that she's just really pretty), and then tells Logan a fable about wolverines so that he can have a reason for his codename later on. This movie's pretty big on reasons for codenames, but I guess when you have a nonsense phrase like "Deadpool" hanging over your head, you have to figure something out.
Matt: Considerable reasoning behind "Wolverine," not a word about "Logan." This movie is big on selective explanation.
Chris: No sooner does Wolverine have a reason to not call himself Jimmy Boneclaws than Sabretooth shows up to ruin everyone's day by killing Kayla. She is definitely dead for real, no fooling, and Wolverine is about half as upset about that as he was when Professor X died in X-Men 3.
Matt: But it's almost the exact same shot from when Jean died in X-Men 3. Dead in his arms, him yelling up into the sky. I guess he thought he could pull that move off again because he forgot about when he did it this time.
Chris: I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but we may as well deal with this now: Towards the end of the movie, it's revealed that Kayla wasn't really dead (SURPRISE!), and that Sabretooth just drugged her and poured about a coffee cup's worth of blood onto her shirt. Don't you think Wolverine would have maybe checked for any kind of wound at all?
Matt: Or, you know, waited for police to arrive, had a coroner check her out, attended a funeral, seen to her burial, etc.
Chris: I get that he's going to be hot on the trail for revenge, so I'm not expecting him to call in CSI (Canadian Scene Investigators) or anything, but you'd think he would've become pretty darn familiar with stab wounds in general and Sabretooth's handiwork in particular at some point over the past 130 years. Her shirt's not even ripped!
Matt: He is blinded by rage! So he finds Sabretooth at a bar in a barn or a garage or something (Is that a Canadian thing? We kind of need Uzumeri for this.) and shouts "VICTOR!" for the 100th out of 400 times he does it in this film. Then there's a fight scene that's shot...kind of oddly.
Chris: To his credit, Schrieber is really good at projecting the kind of quiet homicidal menace that really works well for Sabretooth, and with all due respect to Tyler Mane, he's really well cast. And for another, it's really cool to see Grown-Up Wolverine finally pop his bone claws in a way that's badass and kind of gross all at the same time. But then the whole thing goes right down the tubes when Sabretooth charges in on all fours in what I can only describe as a brisk scamper.
Matt: Despite the fact that Schrieber looks to be an inch or two shorter than Jackman is, I agree that he brings a lot more to the role. This fight is weird, though. The motion looks all messed up, like it's shot at a different frame rate or something, and when a bunch of logs fall on Wolverine, they just lose all their momentum in an instant. It's like they're fighting in a vacuum chamber.
Chris: Yeah, it's all over the map. There's one short bit where Sabretooth throws Wolverine into the edge of a bulldozer's shovel (why is there a bulldozer at this garage bar?) that's genuinely cringe-worthy in how much it looks like it would hurt, but then there'll be pieces of the fight that are either impossible to make out or just ridiculous looking.
Matt: Also: Wolverine gets thrown into an oncoming tractor trailer, which just keeps right on going after hitting a guy. You'd think this driver might stop, but he's got lumber to deliver, dammit!
Chris: Canadians take their lumber very seriously. That wood might get carved into a hockey stick that'll be used by Gordie Howe, son!
Matt: Lucky for Wolverine, an ambulance arrives like, within seconds. He arrives at the hospital all healed up, and Stryker's there to meet him with some information he was withholding about Victor's vendetta against the old team. Also, to swear "on my son's life," a phrase no one says. Also also, to offer Wolverine a way to beat Sabretooth next time they fight.
Chris: I actually really liked the "on my son's life" line. It's not that far out of the question - I've seen plenty of "I swear on my kids' lives" or "on my mother's grave" or whatever in movies - and given what we already know of Stryker's relationship to his son in X-Men 2, it's a good nod to how sinister and manipulative he really is.
Matt: It just read to me as, "Hey, remember I have a son?" Because I've always heard that expression as "on my mother's life" or maybe, maybe "children's." Never "son."
Chris: I just really like the idea that he's swearing by the son that he had lobotomized and used to synthesize drugs, as a nice indication that yeah, he is definitely going to betray Wolverine. Uh, spoiler warning?
Matt: But this movie muddles up Stryker's feelings about mutants so much that it sort of makes that harder to parse. I've certainly heard worse dialogue in movies, but that just stuck out to me as an odd phrasing.
Chris: Either way, Wolverine agrees to join up because Stryker tells him that he can give him the ability to kill Sabretooth, which apparently Wolverine needs because he got his ass thoroughly beaten to a truly ridiculous extreme in their little bar-fight. It seriously makes you wonder if Sabretooth was the one doing all the actual work during all those wars. Thus, it's off to Alkali Lake (which now has a scenic waterfall) so that science ladies can draw on him with markers like he passed out at a frat party.
Matt: Stryker reveals that the rock from Africa was one of the pieces that helped him create adamantium, makes Logan a new dogtag that says Wolverine and welcomes some generals. The entire time, Wolverine has been laying on a metal slab. How long has he been there, like a couple days?
Chris: These things take time. My favorite bit is when they turn the "Needle Regulator" up to "MAX." That is a pretty serious level of needle regulation.
Matt: The device that injects the adamantium into Wolverine is a bunch of dentist drills, by the way. I guess it's so Hood could get the audiences squeamishness up to MAX. Somehow the device also makes Wolverine remember clips from the movie up to now, too.
Chris: Needless to say, Wolverine survives, presumably because of Stryker's encouragements to "come on, old friend." Sadly, old friendship only goes so far, as he declares the project a success and tells the science team to "erase his memory." This, by the way, is never actually explained either. How do they intend to do the memory erasing? Do they have one of those flashbulbs from Men in Black laying around?
Matt: This is also a prequel for Tommy Lee Jones' Agent K, who changed his name from Zero, I guess. There's a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense here. Stryker is asked if he wants to take Wolverine to The Island, the place where he's keeping mutants to make Weapon XI, and he says no. But he's going to use the DNA to make XI anyway. So he's just going to erase Wolverine's memory, and...what? Tell him he's actually an 18th-Century dandy named Leopold?
Chris: It's so weird, because at this point we've spent around 45 minutes kind of explaining where we got the adamantium and how it gets dental-drilled into Wolverine's bones, and "oh, also we have mind erasing technology" is just a complete afterthought. But Wolverine hears their plans and pops up out of the water all bare-assed and adamantium'd up, escaping by murdering a bunch of dudes.
Chris: But here's the thing: since we already know that Wolverine doesn't have his memories when he shows up in X-Men, it's also kind of a big, pointless fake-out to have them talking about erasing his mind but not actually doing it, and also to have him escape from the Weapon X program with his brain fully intact. Also, why erase his memory now? He is like 100% on Stryker's side at this point and they just made him an indestructible killing machine. Why not at least get a few missions out of him, or at least wait until he's out of the room to be like "Man, we totally f***ed that guy over, am I right? High fives!"
Matt: Stryker's so fickle. He's like a kid who gets bored with his toys the minute after he unwraps them. Really, he seems like an entirely different character than the one from X2. So Stryker and the rest of the lab team kind of look at each other like, "Well, dang, lost him again," and naked Wolverine slinks nudely into Jonathan and Martha Kent's barn.
Chris: Oh man. The Canadian Kents were exactly where I thought this movie was going to self-destruct into insanity, and not the good kind. I was already a little nervous when I saw Richard Donner's name in the credits as executive producer - you never know when you're going to get Goonies and when you're going to get Superman with that dude - and this part had me terrified.
Matt: Not-Jonathan heads into the barn with a rifle to find a shivering Wolverine, who, thankfully, is not on "the drugs." He offers Logan some of Superman's old clothes and jokes that the sight of Wolverine's genitals would kill his wife.
Chris: He calls it "The Seventh Claw." Despite my misgivings, this little visit to Smallville, Ontario isn't actually that bad. Although I didn't catch it in the movie, the Fake Kents are credited as the Hudsons (which is weird, because neither one of 'em looks like Vindicator to me and there's no evidence of a Maple Leaf unitard in their closet), but they make a nice break from the action. The only thing really awful about this scene is Wolverine's hilariously bad CGI claws when he's checking himself out in the mirror.
Matt: Why in the world are they CGI? Was it really so hard to use prosthetics in this quiet scene in a bathroom? As it is, this looks like PlayStation One graphics.
Chris: You're way too kind; I thought they looked like colorforms that someone had stuck on the film. It's insane, because they definitely have actual claw props laying around, right? And if not, they could just go to any knife show and/or Southern comic book convention and pick a few up.
Matt: There are some Mild Hijinks when Wolverine's DigiClaws tear up the bathroom and he walks into the kitchen with a slice of sink. Wolverine's dinner with the old couple that is Movie Alpha Flight proves them to just be really good-hearted folks, which means they're not long for this world.
Chris: Right. Just as I was worried that we'd be in for 45 minutes of down-home lessons and longing shots across the prairie, Maverick shows up and nudges the plot along by shooting everyone and blowing up their barn.
Matt: The old folks had done their job: Give us the much-needed origin story of Wolverine's leather jacket. What a story it was! It was a hand-me-down from some guy we never see.
Chris: From Canadian Superman, no less! At this point, things get awesome as we kick off what is unquestionably the best action sequence this movie has to offer, starting with Wolverine jumping his motorcycle through a barn explosion.
Chris: You can probably tell now why I ended up liking this movie so much.
Matt: This sequence is so over-the-top you can't help but kind of love it. It's a helicopter versus a motorcycle, first of all. There are Humvees despite this being the late 1970s at the latest. Wolverine takes the helicopter apart BY HIMSELF WITH HIS CLAWS after flying at it from the force of a rocket explosion. It is something else.
Chris: Humvees and completely modern helicopters with computerized targeting systems! But still, it's crazy fun. The only thing I don't like about this whole sequence is that there's absolutely no learning curve at all for Wolverine to get used to his new claws. He goes from getting effortlessly beaten down by Sabretooth and accidentally cutting up old folks' bathrooms to just straight up murdering helicopters and walking away from explosions in slow motion.
Matt: He has had his bone starter claws for like 130 years, though.
Chris: Those were more "stab your father" claws than "slice through a helicopter in mid air while riding the force of a motorcycle explosion" claws, though. I'm not even saying that I want this bit to be slower, just that it's kind of this immediate shift from tough underdog to holy-sh**-Final-Boss badass. Did he hit his Limit Break when the old people got shot?
Matt: His hair is pretty close to Cloud's in this movie. It is true that no less than a minute or two ago he was accidentally destroying radiators with his claws. His claw puberty went by fast. So Wolverine has some threatening back-and-forth via headseat with Stryker, who all of a sudden wants to be pals again, and opts to take no guff from Maverick, whom he blows up in the light-the-gas-on-fire-and-walk-away explosion that may be the height of that particular trope.
Chris: He vows that he's going to kill both Sabretooth and Stryker and probably a bunch of other dudes along the way too, much like Kill Bill without the cool list. And with that, we have reached the halfway point of the movie.
Matt: And the driving question of the plot: Will Wolverine kill everybody? That is the conflict.
Chris: I suspect we already know the answer, but join us next week anyway as this movie somehow gets more ridiculous. How? Because Gambit. That's how.
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