Is the future set in motion, an unchangeable event, something that we are destined to inherit, or can our actions in the present and the past determine what future we leave for ourselves. This is the central theme of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the ambitious follow up, and reboot of the X-Men series which follows on from ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and ‘X-Men: First Class’.
In a vicious, dark and dangerous future, where both mutants and humanity have been hunted to near extinction, the last remaining X-Men are fighting a losing battle. Their only hope is to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into the past, to a time when the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has lost all hope and the younger Erik Lehnsherr now known as Magneto (Michael Fassbender) lives only for revenge. But when the actions of the past threaten to destroy the future, Wolverine must bring these two men together if the future is to be corrected, and both mutant and humankind are to survive.
Director Bryan Singer creates the ultimate X-Men film, adapting what is possibly the greatest X-Men story, ‘Days of Future Past’ by Chris Claremont and John Byrne to the screen with the help of screenwriter Simon Kinberg. It’s a unique story, told from two unique time periods, in the dark, dystopian future the last remaining remnants of the X-Men, lead by Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen), have one final hope in order to change the past, and Wolverine is dropped straight in the middle of it. Sent back in time, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine finds himself in a unique position, that of a peacemaker, who having witnessed the future knows that he faces an uphill battle bringing the younger Xavier and Magneto together. Not only is Jackman an absolute beast as Wolverine, this time getting to flex his bone claws, but the film’s time period of the mid 1970s works well for a character who’s badass swagger works so perfectly within it. Jackman’s history as Wolverine also influences the character, especially when he runs into characters such as the young William Stryker (Josh Helman). Jackman’s never seemed so fresh as Wolverine, and his vitality and energy push the franchise forward, he’s at his best, and this makes for an awesome film going experience.
X-Men: Days of Future Past also brings Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy together as Charles Xavier/Professor X and Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender together as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, a piece of moviemaking magic which is beyond the word awesome. Patrick Stewart again does a terrific job as the older Professor X, while McAvoy is caught between hopelessness, and the need to find his purpose. While Fassbender is again all consuming, and is both power hungry and revenge crazy as Magneto, McKellen is the world weary alley of the future Xavier, who laments the mistakes of his past, and is trying to fix them from the future. While we only get to see McKellen and Fassbender individually, we do get to see the film’s most poignant scene occurring between both Stewart and McAvoy, where the elder Xavier challenges his younger self to believe in the possibility of hope again, and to inspire it in both his X-Men, and Magneto. This scene gives credit to both the power of cinema, and the purpose of the X-Men, it is simply incredible.
Also taking a prominent role in the film is Jennifer Lawrence, who once again does a terrific job as Mystique, and has come along way since first appearing as the character in 2011’s ‘X-Men: First Class’. Lawrence again consumes total control of Mystique and her stealthy, slick portrayal is brimming with a smoking sexuality and femme fatale intelligence. She also gets in a lot of kick ass action scenes, and proves that she can definitely mix it up with the boys. Mystique is a mutant haters worse nightmare, and the X-Men have one particularly vile mutant hater to deal with this time in the form of Boliver Trask, played by the incredibly charismatic Peter Dinklage. Dinklage manages to be both tricky, and sinister in a performance where he both loves and hates mutants, with his love driving him to exterminate them even further. Dinklage also captures Trask’s god complex with particular glee as well.
X-Men: Days of Future Past also presents a whole new generation of X-Men, and there are a number of clear standouts. Firstly there’s Omar Sy, as mutant hardman Bishop, a mutant freedom fighter, with some pretty intense dreadlocks and one badass rifle, while Fan Bingbing is also a great new find in future X-Men Blink, a portal channeling mutant, who is not only incredibly gorgeous, but is also very clever and crafty, with her mutant ability giving her some pretty cool scenes in the film. But if there is one character who clearly steals the film then it’s Evan Peters with his portrayal of Peter Maximoff, also known as Quicksilver. Not only was he perfectly cast, but Peters copped a lot of flack when the film went into production, there were many in the online community who were displeased with his casting, as well as with the look of his character, which was heavily emphasized by the films 1970s setting. But he’s obviously worked very hard to overcome this, and his performance is just masterful as the smart-aleck super speedster teenager. Definitely keep your eyes on this guy (which might be kind of hard considering how fast he goes), because he’s got a bright future ahead of him in this franchise.
Singer places his film perfectly against the backdrop of the 1970s, a decade of turbulent change, beset by the Vietnam War, and the anti-war movement, along with Nixon and the Watergate scandal. It was an era where the films themes of hope and the future have to struggle to get heard, and this allows the film great leeway to express its messages. Audiences should also prime themselves for action with this one, and man it is delivered. The films final set piece will knock you back in your seat.
But with all the ambitious action pieces and character arcs, it is the films ending that will leave audiences spellbound. All I’m going to say is that it is absolutely incredible!
But while X-Men: Days of Future Past is an incredible film, its not without it’s faults, specifically how did Professor X return after being destroyed by the Phoenix force in X-Men: The Last Stand? And how did Wolverine get his claws back after losing his adamantium in The Wolverine? But these faults are minor, and don’t impact the overall strength of X-Men: Days of Future Past, and it’s impending sequel X-Men: Apocalypse.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is an amazing film that brings both the past X-Men films together, while also creating a bright future for the franchise. It’s also a film that cements the ideals that define the X-Men, hope and possibility, and crafts a bright new future for the franchise and the characters that we’ve all come to know and love. Prepare yourself because the future begins now…