The X-Men are back. Again. I think this is the seventh film featuring the characters? I could be wrong, but either way, these characters have seen plenty of big screen adventures. So how do you possibly spice it up? How about combining the amazing cast from both the original X-Men trilogy and the young cast from 2011’s X-Men: First Class into one big movie? That way you can have Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry and Jennifer Lawrence in the same installment! Great in theory, but seemingly impossible and ridiculous to pull off.
Well, leave it to screenwriter Simon Kinberg, who has put together an ingenious script that seamlessly integrates the entire cast of characters into a coherent and focused story. Time travel is the obvious (and probably only) plot device to bring all these characters together. I’m always hesitant about time travel flicks because you can usually easily poke holes into the timeline events, but this film presents its parameters very clearly.
The first 15 minutes could have easily been double the length, but the script is so concise that almost every line of dialogue coming from each character is important. After an opening action sequence to please junkies you were upset that Godzilla took so long to show up, the setup is presented. A new machine created by humans called Sentinals can combat any mutant power. The only way to stop them is to travel back in time and stop their creation.
Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers can allow for time travel, and the only person whose mind that can survive the trip (because of his ability to self-heal) is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). So he’s off to 1973 to recruit the young Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the creator of the Sentinals, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). His death must be stopped because his high-profile murder makes it clear that mutants must be stopped, hence the creation of the Sentinals. The movie takes about as long to set the plot up as it did for me to type that paragraph. This film moves through its exposition like a bullet.
Then things go through the typical scenes of characters not believing that Wolverine has been sent from the future, and takes a while to really get exciting. The introduction of Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is just the kind of jolt of energy the film needs. The new character allows director Bryan Singer to explore some new territory and really have fun with it. The rest of the action really doesn’t take hold until the expected timeline of events is upset. It leads to a spectacular third act with epic action sequences happening in both 1973 and 2014. The script balances it all brilliantly, and it in its conclusion, it even completely resets the franchise opening the door for a whole new set of stories (Jackman is gonna play this role til he’s dead).
It’s great seeing all these characters again, from Shawn Ashmore‘s Iceman to Nicholas Hoult‘s Beast, and you’re in for some very quick (and very cool) cameos too, but it’s still frustrating to watch Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence restrain all her charm in the one-note character of Mystique. That being said, despite the lack of freshness to the proceedings, I really don’t see how Days Of Future Past could be better.
This is easily the best X-Men movie since X2: X-Men United, and it’s no coincidence that it was the last one directed by Bryan Singer. He might have bombed with Superman Returns but he’s got this mutant franchise figured out like no one else. This is a tightly constructed, well executed summer blockbuster. The only thing holding it back is that there’s still a lack of excitement just because this is round 7 for the mutants.