The prequel seeks to answer all your questions, assuming you had any, as regards where and when and why the titular superhero got his switchblade knuckles, his leather bolero jacket, his pent-up rage, his blank memory, among other esoterica. Starting back in 1854 (heavy sigh), two mutant brothers, aging up to forty and no further, fight side by side through the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War — “That’s enough!” — and thereafter fight head to head for a run-of-the-mill revenge motive, a slaughtered girlfriend. In the build-up to the main event, the already immortal avenger (Hugh Jackman, oiled, watered, undershirted, shirtless, briefly pantless) is made indestructible for military use — a metalized skeleton — and then targeted for destruction when he refuses to be used. The end, by which is meant the coda after the full scroll of credits, reminds us that if there’s still a megabuck to be made, there’s no end. The style of the film, far from suited to a simple prelude, might be described as apocalyptic hyperbole. It could make you tired in itself, or suicidal at the thought of forthcoming backstories for the rest of the X-Men and -Women. With Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, and Ryan Reynolds; directed by Gavin Hood. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd
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