Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage
The Indian Express rating: **1/2
As Bryan Singer fights allegations of sexual assault against him by two men, his return X-Men film could go either way against him. Singer has sought to address the charges by talking about sexuality being a complex thing, and here is a film that not only underlines how “humanity has always feared someone different from it” but also conceptualises a friendship between two men that is borderline sexual.
And the fact is that the friendship between Charles aka Professor Xavier (McAvoy) and Eric aka Magneto (Fassbender) is the best thing about X-Men: Days of Future Past. As the two fascinating and physically distinct actors collide and collude, their scenes bristle with tension and bitterness, evoking a past and hinting at a future.
Singer, who set off the X-Men franchise to commercial and critical success with his first two films in the line (X-Men and X2; there have been four more), knows well enough to let them be. Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine takes a backseat, and even Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven/Mystique (making her first X-Men appearance) despite the actress being such a force of nature in her roles.
The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join up with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in the film. Days of Future Past begins with the mutants coming into serious attack sometime in the desolate years ahead. It is only Kitty Pryde’s (Page) powers to transport consciousness backwards and forwards that helps save some of them. Between her, Xavier, Magneto and Wolverine, it is decided that with the government attacks on them increasing and getting deadlier, the only way ahead is for Wolverine to go into the past and change history. Specifically, he is to meet up with Xavier and Magneto’s younger selves (Charles and Eric, respectively) in 1973, to get them to stop their friend Raven, who is about to kill a celebrated scientist publicly, thus bringing the war upon mutants.
The scientist Trask (an anagram for Stark, just in case you missed that) is played to good effect by Dinklage, who conveys the evil mind at work behind his mild, polite, bespectacled manners. He has been experimenting on mutants to generate the perfect weapon and America’s embarrassing retreat from Vietnam provides the perfect push to get a foot into the White House, where Trask finds a receptive audience in a nervous Nixon. Incidentally, Nixon isn’t the only US president to be caught up in this mutant story, but the involvement of the other one is too priceless to throw it away here.
However, while Singer gets the acting part down pat, the film itself is a lumbering, nearly 140-minute hulk that can’t keep up the pace it tries to set for itself as well as the ambitiousness of time travel. There are flashes of near virtuosity, especially the too-brief appearance of the mutant Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who moves at blistering speed — the scene filmed in the kitchen of the Pentagon (they do eat there) is audacious — and then long stretches of portentous and often repetitive dialogue. The 3D though is efficient and not overdone.
Quite like its name, Days of Future Past may just be that — about interesting enough to keep dipping into the pool, but not good enough to not see in it reflected glory.