X2: X-Men United

More Mutants

Main Cast: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox

Director: Bryan Singer

Plot Summary: After an attack on the White House by a mutant, the X-Men (led by Professor Xavier) must hunt this would-be assassin down to calm the fears of the humans, who are increasingly resentful of the mutants and their powers. A military leader named Stryker has his own plan to eliminate the mutants, which may be tied to Wolverine’s mysterious past.

The second movie picks up pretty much right after the end of the first. In a stunning action sequence the White House security is breached by a mysterious blue mutant named Nightcrawler (Cumming), who delivers a “message” to the President. That message is definitely received, which leads to the Mutant Registration Act. This little piece of law is the engine that drives the plot — flimsy, yes, and indeed everything pretty much careens forward without much thought to coherence. Everything hinges on the various powers of the mutants, and their relationships to each other.

Led by Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) on one side is: Wolverine (Jackman), the hip warrior with the flashing claws; Storm (Halle Berry), second-in-command at the school and master of storms and lightning; and Dr. Jean Gray (Janssen), a mentalist and master of telekinesis. On the other side is Magneto (Ian McKellen), genius and controller of all things metal, and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), spy and shapeshifter. The Nightcrawler is a wild card that Storm and friends must find in order to figure out what is going on.

They do find him, and learn a bit more about the plans of Magneto, and a human general named Stryker (Cox), who has it in for all mutants. And, apparently, a way to back up his threats. I don’t want to spoil things and say exactly what, but the data gathered leads to grave news and an assault on the general’s fortress up in the wilderness next to a lake. This facility also may contain clues to Wolverine’s past.

All this is pretty much seen through the window of a car going 70. Scenes whiz by, peppered by glib chatter and more or less constant action. This isn’t a thinking sci-fi movie by any stretch of the imagination. But the action, and special effects, do indeed redeem this offering from so-so to a mediocre but necessary bridge between the excellent first movie and the more solid, more engaging last part of the trilogy.

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