X-Men Origins: Wolverine stars a buff but much too nice Hugh Jackman as the talon-sprouting future X-Man and Liev Schreiber — preening entertainingly — as his evil, fanged half-brother. The first half-hour moves like a wolf out of hell and makes you think the dire advance word — based on millions watching the leaked work print — was nuts. It’s witty and well staged (if you don’t mind that every time someone so much as breaks into a run it turns into CGI): What do those fanboys want? Then the action shifts to Canada and the bloat creeps in: The twists and double-crosses come too fast to absorb, and Jackman and Schreiber — now at war — impale each other and regenerate so many times that you can’t wait for someone, anyone, actually to die. A little catharsis, please! But few of the main characters bite it for good because, you know, there’s a Marvel franchise to maintain. Wolverine is the lucky one because he ends the picture with amnesia.
It’s unfair to call Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control the emptiest movie ever made, but I wrote that in my notebook as I struggled to stay awake. It’s even more ponderous than his first film, Permanent Vacation, in which a blank young man wandered the East Village meeting hipsters who talked too much. Here it’s a robotic Isaach de Bankole on some kind of diamond-smuggling mission through Spain not reacting to eccentrics Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal, and oft-naked chatterbox Paz De La Huerta. Finally, Bill Murray shows up as a Dick Cheney type and Bankole turns out to be a supernatural avenger like Forrest Whitaker’s African-American assassin in Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of Samurai. Politics, attitude, and anomie. I expect there will be rave reviews and look forward to reading them — I love science fiction.