Reviewed by: Deanna Marquart
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, Brian Cox | Directed by: Bryan Singer | Produced by: Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Avi Arad | Written by: Zak Penn, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris | Distributor: 20th Century Fox
The X-Men return in this much anticipated sequel as they continue to fight to bring peaceful unity between humans and mutants, while darker forces seek a destructive war between the two. This time, a former Army commander, William Stryker (Cox), leads the anti-mutant movement, instigating an underhanded war. The danger from him becomes so great that the X-Men must unite with Magneto (McKellen—the mutant villain of the first movie who still seeks domination) in order to stop him.
The trouble begins as Wolverine (Jackman) returns to Xavier’s School, a.k.a. the X-Mansion in order to ask Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) for additional help after his search to discover his past leads to a dead end. Instead, he finds himself left in charge of the Mansion while the rest of the team goes out on a mission: Storm (Berry) and Jean Grey (Janssen) head off to retrieve a mutant who is wreaking havoc at the White House under the direction of the sinister Stryker.
The mutant in question, Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Cumming), a blue elf-looking German circus actor with incredible dexterity and the ability to teleport in a puff of blue smoke, turns out to be an innocent victim of Stryker’s manipulation. Unfortunately, Nightcrawler is not the only one being manipulated, and Professor X and Scott wind up in the Stryker’s clutches while his forces begin attacking the X-Mansion. What transpires next will start the clock ticking against the existence of all mutant-kind.
Evolution continues to be a theme in this film. Mutants are so named because they are humans with mutated genes that give them superhuman powers. In addition, one of character evolves throughout the film. This transformation is a deviation from how it occurred in the comic series, where a powerful cosmic being was involved. But anyone familiar with the series will recognize where this is leading (pay very close attention to the shape of the shadow in the water at the end.).
The violence is also more intense in this film than in the previous installment. Unlike the first film, this one amasses a huge body count. Whereas some Christians will object to seeing Wolverine slicing through his enemies left and right with his adamanthium claws; others will see this as necessary to save the children and his friends, just as a soldier would in a war. However, true to PG-13 ratings, the amount of slaying is tempered by a lack of gore. Only one of the deaths could honestly be considered gross, and it occurs without actual blood.
The movie also contains some extremely suggestive sexual content. There are a couple of scenes featuring passionate kissing and another couple scenes of more intense foreplay—though none come to complete fruition. In addition, some profanity, including three s-words and the abuse of God’s name is sprinkled throughout the film.
One word: Nightcrawler! When facing fear, he prays The Lord’s Prayer. When in mourning, he prays The 23rd Psalm. In a conversation with Storm, he speaks of releasing hatred and choosing faith.
Making choices for good or for evil plays a key theme throughout the film. Jean has to choose between faithfulness to Scott or submitting to the temptation of Wolverine. Pyro has to choose between controlling his power for the benefit of others or abusing his power for his own selfish ends. The president has to choose between declaring war on the mutants or promoting a more peaceful alternative. Several characters have to make the choice of putting their lives on the line to save the others, and Nightcrawler comes out as a knight in shining armor in this area.
For those who love action flicks, X2 could be worth a visit to the theater. However, hardcore X-fans may consider the inconsistencies of character and ability of certain X-Men a let-down. The inclusion of Nightcrawler’s faith was a wonderful surprise and hopefully it will serve as a light in the darkness to viewers who need the Savior. On the other hand, those with reservations about violence and other worldly displays and themes can expect to see their fears realized on the screen. Parents should certainly exercise their best discretion.