By David Adams
May 30, 2014
“This might just work, Charles,” says Eric Lehnsherr, aka Magneto (Ian McKellen) to Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). It’s 2023, last days of the world war in which shape-shifting Sentinels, descendants of Dr. Bolivar Trask’s (Peter Drinklage) 1970s robotic creations, battle surviving mutants and their human allies. It’s the end if Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), on a time-travel mission, can’t dissuade Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from her 1973 assassination of Trask. That’s the setup for this smart, action adventure.
Can Logan survive his time-travel ordeal? Does he convince Raven to give up revenge? Will Sentinels win the 2023 war? Want answers? See “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
“It’s the greatest gift we have,” says 2023 Professor Charles Xavier – played with appropriate gravitas by Patrick Stewart, as he offers advice to a younger friend – “to bear other peoples’ pain without breaking. It makes us stronger. We can hope again.” Nor is Stewart the only cast member with such a scene. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, very good as 1973 Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr, have scenes, too, in which they resolve – or not – their own interpersonal issues. Hugh Jackman, again, is Logan/Wolverine, troubled with nightmares and identity problems. Good stuff for good actors – like Ian McKellen as 2023 Eric/Magneto and the rest – to get their teeth (or Wolverine’s claws) into.
Others in the excellent cast include Nicholas Hoult as young Hank/Beast and Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, dealing with revenge. Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore and Evan Peters, with less screen time, are Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Bobby/Iceman, and Peter/Quicksilver. Peter Drinklage is complex bad guy (or troubled good guy) Dr. Bolivar Trask. Mark Camacho plays President Nixon and avoids the caricature.
Seventh installment in the franchise, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is that rare bird: a smartly scripted and seriously acted, action flick that’s fun and still bound to make a gazillion dollars. Bryan Singer directed, from Simon Kinberg’s complex screenplay (story credits to Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn). Visual/special effects are outstanding (I did not see the 3D version), and the best single scene is Evan Peter’s Quicksilver setting up of a complicated, multi-person confrontation that you’ll want to see again, right away. Time-travel plots are always weird – remember “Terminator” and “Looper,” for example – but I like them anyway. This one, too, is bizarre, but go along and don’t worry about it.
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material, nudity and language, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” runs 131 minutes, but won’t seem that long. Listen for Roberta Flack singing on the soundtrack.
“X-Men’s” time-travel task
In “Days of Future Past”
Has everything you could ask –
Smarts and action – first to last.