“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.