When new teleporting mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming, Goldeneye
) appears inside The White House and attempts to assassinate the President, the X-Menss world is thrown into danger. Rebel baddie Stryker (Brian Cox, Manhunter
) is behind it and plots an elaborate plan to capture all mutants including the pupils at Professor Xaviers (Patrick Stewart, Star Trek
) School for the Gifted. It is then up to the indestructible Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, Swordfish
) to discover the truth about what is going on, and in the process, the story behind his own identity. Meanwhile, the villainous Magneto (Ian McKellen, Lord of the Rings
) breaks free from prison with the help of his shape-shifting comrade, Mystique (Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, Femme Fatale
), creating more cataclysmic events for the X-Men. As danger beckons, the mutants call upon their powers to an even greater extent.
Dr Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, Goldeneye) reaches extraordinary new levels using her powers of telepathy alongside weather-manipulator Storm (Academy Award winner Halle Berry, Monsters Ball), life-force zapper Rogue (Anna Pacquin, Buffalo Soldiers), laser beam Cyclops (James Marsden, Disturbing Behaviour) and the cool Ice-Man (Shawn Ashmore). United with further newcomers including the iron claw-clad Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu, The Scorpion King) and fingertip firestarter Pyro (Aaron Stanford), X-Men 2 contains the most spectacular array of super-hero powers you have ever seen!
picks up almost directly where X-Men
left off: misguided super-villain Magneto (Ian McKellan) is still a prisoner of the US government, heroic bad-boy Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is up in Canada investigating his mysterious origin, and the events at Liberty Island (which occurred at the conclusion of X-Men
) have prompted a rethink in official policy towards mutants--the proposed Mutant Registration Act has been shelved by US Congress. Into this scenario pops wealthy former Army commander William Stryker, a man with the President's ear and a personal vendetta against all mutant-kind in general, and the X-Men's leader Professor X (Patrick Stewart) in particular. Once he sets his plans into motion, the X-Men must team-up with their former enemies Magneto and Mystique (Rebecca Romjin-Stamos), as well as some new allies (including Alan Cumming's gregarious, blue-skinned German mutant, Nightcrawler).
The phenomenal global success of X-Men meant that director Bryan Singer had even more money to spend on its sequel, and it shows. Not only is the script better (there's significantly less cheesy dialogue than the original), but the action and effects are also even more stupendous--from Nightcrawler's teleportation sequence through the White House to a thrilling aerial dogfight featuring mutants-vs-missiles to a military assault on the X-Men's school/headquarters to the final showdown at Stryker's sub-Arctic headquarters. Yet at no point do the effects overtake the film or the characters. Moreso than the original, this is an ensemble piece, allowing each character in its even-bigger cast at least one moment in the spotlight (in fact, the cast credits don't even run until the end of the film). And that, perhaps, is part of its problem (though it's a slight one)--with so much going on, and nary a recap of what's come before, it's a film that could prove baffling to anyone who missed the first installment. But that's just a minor quibble--X-Men 2 is that rare thing, a sequel that's actually superior to its predecessor. --Robert Burrow