Based on the hit Marvel comic series, the film directed by Bryan Singer, X2 revolves around an attempt by Colonel Stryker (Brian Cox), to eliminate the mutant threat by invading the training school and home of the X-Men and their leader Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). This direct attack on the mutants adds fuel to the fire as Charless old friend yet recent enemy Magneto (Ian McKellen), now has proof to his long standing theory that mutants must fight the humans for survival. Until now, Xavier has always believed that humans and mutants could co-exist in peace and has trained his students in this philosophy as well as the enhancement of their talents. Magneto has always believed that mutants must fight to survive, and that humans are inferior and has surrounded himself with followers who share this belief. Naturally this conflict of interest has lead to skirmishes between the two sides as well as an increased fear of mutants from a human population caught in the crossfire. As if the attack on the academy was not enough to complicate the lives of the X-Men, Magneto has escaped from his high security prison and a mutant assassin has made an attempt on the life of the President making a tense situation even more volatile as fear and paranoia regarding mutants is now at an all time high.
Faced with a battle on several fronts, the X-Men join forces with Magnetos troops in a reluctant alliance that is necessary for the survival of their kind as well as for the very human race.
What follows is a dazzling mix of special effects and action as the two sides battle Strykers legions and each other with the very real threat of genocide hanging in the balance.
There are some fine performances in the film especially those of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as the shape shifting Mystique and that of Alan Cumming as the Bible quoting teleporter Nightshade. The two characters add energy and humor to their roles that makes them stand out from the majority of the cast save Hugh Jackmans standout performance as Wolverine.
This is a much more serious X-Men than the last adventure as people are killed along the way upping the violence from the traditional comic book style yet none of it is overly explicit. My biggest gripe with the film was that there were several long gapes in the film where little was happening and that talents such as Hale Berry, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin, and Ian McKellen were not given much to do with the screen time they had. There were flashes of great moments such as Roque (Ana Paquin), confronting Magneto for the first time since he tried to kill her in the last film, and a bizarre love triangle involving Wolverine that has to be seen to be believed, yet as a whole, X2 left me wanting more. I know with so many characters in the story it would be difficult to develop them all, and X2 does a nice job expanding on the roles of some of the smaller characters from the comic and past film, yet it simply does not add up. I think that with a tighter script and more attention to the details this film would have been truly great. That being said, X2 is an entertaining summer film that should delight fans of the past film and the comic. If you can get by a few plot holes, then you might find yourself having a good time.
3 stars out of 5
Gareth Von Kallenbach
International Association of Film Critics
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