The X-Men are back in their seventh film, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and this time, they’ve got the biggest, baddest villain of all in their sights. Familiar faces from the original X-Men trilogy join forces with the younger selves featured in X-Men: First Class, and together they’re taking on… Brett Ratner (director of the unpolished turd of the X-franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand).
That’s right. X-Men: Days Of Future Past manages to be one of the strongest entries in the franchise thus far while conveniently trotting out a slick, fast-paced time travel plot to reset the timeline of the franchise so movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine never even happened. But what could have been just another tired, convoluted time-travel story actually ends up working brilliantly, thanks in no small part to the return of director Bryan Singer, as well as source material taken from one of the greatest comic storylines of all time, 1981’s Days of Future Past by X-Men legends John Byrne and Chris Claremont.
The movie opens in a dystopian future where mutants have almost been hunted to extinction by robotic Sentinels, who are also eliminating humans who have genetic markers that could potentially lead to mutant offspring as well. A small group of mutants lead by Bishop (Omar Sy) and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) keeps evading Sentinels thanks to Kitty’s ability to project the consciousness of others back in time, allowing them to stay one step ahead of their would-be captors. They’re tracked down by Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) along with the other remnants of the X-Men who have an interesting idea: They want to send Wolverine back in time.
The path to their dystopian future began in 1973 when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinated the genius inventor of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). His death convinced the government to start the Sentinel program to combat what was then perceived as a growing mutant threat. Wolverine wakes up in 1973 and sets about finding the younger version of Professor X (James McAvoy), a now disillusioned and broken man, who lives with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) in his crumbling mansion, addicted to a serum that lets him walk but deadens his psychic powers.
After some persuasion, Beast and the Professor agree to help spring younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from his prison in the Pentagon with the assistance of super-fast mutant Quicksilver (Evan Peters). They soon head for Paris in an effort to prevent Trask’s assassination, though as one might expect, things don’t always go according to plan.
This movie never should have worked and in the hands of a lazier director, it might have been a total disaster, but Singer packs in enough plots for two whole movies into one two-hour stretch, and there’s so many mutants, you practically need a flow chart to keep track of them. The film teeters on the edge of crazy mutant overload but manages to walk the tightrope and avoid getting bogged down. There’s not a wasted moment in this movie and as a result, it seems to fly by.
Yet despite that, it all just seems a little too neat and too slick for my liking. With Kitty’s ability to shove someone’s consciousness back in time, it lowers the stakes somewhat. After all, if they screw up, Professor X will presumably get the same idea again, right? It’s a plot device that both makes the movie great and prevents it from elevating itself into a pantheon of genre movies occupied by Spider-Man 2, X-Men 2 and even The Dark Knight.
Overall, it’s a welcome return to form for the X-Men franchise and sets up all kinds of interesting possibilities for the X-Men First Class crew as well as their present day counterparts. But if you’re not feeling like partaking in the tear-fest that is The Fault In Our Stars, get your popcorn on and embrace your inner X-Man. You won’t regret it.