X-Men: Days of Future Past opens with a glimpse of the waking dystopian nightmare that is the New York City of the future. Man, woman and child, mutant and human sympathizers alike, are herded, collared, detained and branded by a force of adaptive robot police known as Sentinels. These Big Brothers of the corrupt, ruling elite came to be after their designer and chief proponent, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), was assassinated in the 1970s by our old friend Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), galvanizing his message of mutant danger and pretty much fucking the world up for all involved.
Back to the future: the few remaining free mutants, no longer divided into white and black hats, scramble from one spider hole to the next, ever eluding their robotic pursuers; Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) phases the consciousness of one of her fellow refugees back in time a few days to warn of each impending attack, allowing her and her cohorts to escape. Thinking big picture, they’d love to send the present (?) Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart), the most powerful mutant mind ever, back decades in order to stop it all before it starts. Thing is, only Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) would be able to recover from the psychic shock inherent to such a journey (apparently a mutant healing factor works on an abstract concept like the mind too).
So, with Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Bishop (Omar Sy), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart) standing vigil while the Sentinels close in, the ol’ Canucklehead gets his brain blasted back to the Disco Era in the hopes of convincing a younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) to reunite with the just-as-young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and convince Mystique not to off the intolerant little bastard, thus changing the course of history, hopefully for the better.
Days of Future Past marks the return of the original architect of the X-Franchise, Bryan Singer, to the director’s chair. His departure after X2 — to make the shitty Superman Returns — allowed Brett Ratner to take the helm and create the also-shitty X3: The Last Stand, which was seriously about the last anyone could stand. While Matthew Vaughn did a great job getting the popular superteam back on track with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, audiences and cinema hacks worldwide must now decide if Singer’s latest has undone enough damage.
Honestly, Days is a mixed bag. Singer’s knack for creating crescendos in both emotion and tone is on full display, with a great balance of quiet, brooding angst and epic, visceral action. It’s well-paced and the period action is done up to a surprisingly good degree. That said, there are a few plot holes, courtesy of writers Simon Kinberg (Last Stand), Jane Goldman (First Class), and Vaughn (who also co-penned First Class). But let’s be realistic: in a cinematic odyssey of psychic time travel to escape/prevent the reign of tyrannical, adaptable T-1000s, we can afford to overlook a few things.
The ensemble cast is smashing. McAvoy and Fassbender never lost a beat between films. Jackman is as impressive as ever as our favorite homo superior tragic hero. Dinklage may look like a miniature Ron Burgundy, but he brings some of Tyrion Lannister’s quiet tenacity to his role.
And Jennifer Lawrence walks around a lot wearing nothing but blue paint and sequins, so there’s that.
You’ll get your fill of popcorn fun and then some with X-Men: Days of Future Past; it’s well worth it to see it on the big screen if your suspension of disbelief is as strong as it need be for any comic book fare.