Starting with a truly jaw dropping attack on the White House by a brain washed, teleporting, Nightcrawler X2 launches out of the gate with one of the greatest super hero action sequences of all time and that’s only the beginning…
Brimming with intelligence and innovation (much like that action sequence) Bryan Singers second dose of X is somewhat of a revelation, a consistent and sizable step up from the original in every conceivable way simply because it treats it’s subject matter and audience with a huge amount of respect.
Time has passed from the Statue Of Liberty event from the first movie and the world continues to tick on. But after a frenzied assassination attempt on POTUS by a mutant assailant, the anti-mutant barbs are out in force again. While Storm and Jean Grey search for clues and Wolverine is in Canada searching for his past, Professor X and Cyclops go for a fateful visit to the incarcerated Magneto only to find out a new energy is moving against them and Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is the target.
By far the most impressive thing about X2 is it’s successful pre-Avengers balancing act of almost all of it’s characters. In fact in the shuffle of main characters getting their due, new characters getting introduced and previously minor characters stepping into the limelight (Iceman and Mystique, take a bow) almost no one gets left behind, except, once again James Marsden’s underutilised Cyclops. Hell, there’s even a boffo Colossus cameo that raises the roof as it smashes through walls.
As the film gathers pace it effortlessly flings memorable scenes at you that run the full scale from knuckle whitening excitement (X-Mansion siege! X-Jet chase! Eyebrow raisingly brutal adamantium fight!) to surprising poignancy (Iceman “coming out” to his parents! Last reel sacrifice!) and then back again. It’s incredibly subtle at times too, rare for a film of this size and scope, observe Magneto’s gentle turning of one of Xavier’s more troubled students into his fold with only a few choice words, everyone here has regimented screen time to nail their arcs and do so beautifully, not easy when the spine of the movie is Wolverine’s origin, yet no one else feels secondary.
Naysayers may grouse that details are different to the comics but when your film is as smart and sophisticated at this, tiny niggles like Pyro not being Australian and Lady Deathstrike not being a cyborg simply fall a distant second to the quality of the final product. Look at it like this, would you rather a comic accurate film that turns out like Spawn or would you want X-Men 2, where concessions in source material are made for the greater good? Obviously both would be ideal but this was 2003 for Christ’s sake, you literally had to settle for one or the other back in those days.
Virtually a breath of fresh air back in 2003 – it was sandwiched between the Daredevil and Hulk movies – X2 is now considered as something of a guiding light these days, something that was desperately needed in those pre-MCU/pre-Dark Knight Trilogy days and is still, arguably the best X-Men movie ever made.
All hail this evolved sequel that goes the X-tra mile.