The movie opens in the Northwest Territories in 1845, where two half-brothers—Victor Creed and James Logan, the latter ill in bed—experience a family trauma in which James’ father is killed. Shocked, James finds his finger-bones sliding out of his hand like blades, and he kills the other father, only to learn that the murderer is their mother. Victor and James are brothers and they stick together and run. As they age, slowly, played by Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber, they fight together in the U.S. Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. They seem impossible to kill, even by firing squad. Colonel Stryker (Danny Huston) offers them a place in his special team of mutants, where they will become Wolverine and Sabretooth.
During an assault on diamond-smugglers in Nigeria, Stryker reveals what he is really looking for—not diamonds but adamantium from the interior. Ordered to kill the entire tribe for not co-operating, Logan decides to quit, tries to talk Victor into doing the same, but fails. Six years later, in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend Rayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins), Logan is a lumberjack and he’s okay, except that he sometimes wakes up screaming, with bone-blades coming out of his hands. Stryker shows up, warning him that someone is killing everyone on the old team and asking him to come back. “Your country needs you,” Stryker says, to which Logan replies, “I’m Canadian.”
Silverfox has powers of her own--when she touches someone, they do what she says, which is handy for easing Logan’s nightmares and controlling his temper. She narrates the native tale of Wolverine, who fell in love with the moon. Sabretooth appears in the woods and kills her, Logan tracks him down in a bar, and there is a fight, talons versus claws, which Logan loses. When he wakes up in the hospital, Stryker appears, confirms that it is Victor doing all the killing, and promises Logan revenge—pain and revenge.
In a kind of Frankenstein scene, Logan’s entire skeleton is fused with adamantium as the military brass watches. Logan smashes out of the tank, kills, and runs, and the military seeks him out. He hides at a farm owned by an elderly couple, who take care of him. The old guy has a motorcycle. Logan sleeps in the barn because there’s less for him to break out there. Of course, the old couple is murdered by the military, and the barn is blown up, but Logan takes off on the bike, chased by a helicopter and an armoured car. Logan takes them both out—chopper versus chopper. Stryker has adamantium bullets, which if they don’t kill Logan, will at least destroy his memory.
Logan tracks down the few surviving members of his old team, discovers that Stryker has been hunting mutants, taking them to a place called The Island, and trying to unite their powers. A mutant named Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) escaped from there once, and Logan goes to track him down. He finds him playing cards in New Orleans and Gambit, not wanting to be found, turns on him just as Sabretooth shows up. The fights are knock-down and drag-out in the alleyways of New Orleans, but Logan eventually forces Gambit to take him to the Island, which is Three Mile Island.
Stryker is having his funding taking away and reacts as super-villains usually do, and he kills a General and keeps on with his experiments. When Logan turns up, there is a huge climax with surprising reveals, some pretty amazing fights, the escape of all the imprisoned mutants, and a final confrontation with Stryker’s special mutant concoction atop a collapsing cooling tower of Three Mile Island.
This film is probably the least admired X-Men offering. It’s a sometimes exciting but ultimately rather ordinary action-movie, and ordinary is not really good enough for a Marvel fan. I kind of like Wolverine as a mystery man, and I pretty much learned everything I needed to know about his backstory in the first trilogy. Also, Ryan Reynolds appears as Wade Wilson, but those who love the Deadpool films can, I think, do without this take on the character.