Canister X Movie Review #95: X2: X-Men United (2003)
Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter
Directed by Bryan Singer
Runtime 133 min.
4.5 out of 5
The rumored war between mutants and humans begins to take shape after a mutant makes an attempt on the life of the President of the United States. Soon, the X-mansion is attacked by military forces led by a man with a hidden vendetta against them. While the X-Men band together to make a stand against those who would rather see them killed or controlled, many of them must also face the demons of their past for good or ill.
Meanwhile, Jean Grey’s powers are acting up and she’s losing control. The others take notice and try to help, but something else seems to be brewing deep within her.
I love this movie. It was my favorite superhero flick until Spider-Man 2 came out. This movie picked up pretty much where the first X-Men left off, and delivered in spades everything that made the first X-movie so good: solid story, amazing acting, high stakes (even higher in this one), and a respect for the source material. Throw Brian Cox as the main bad guy—William Stryker—into the mix and you got a recipe for a great movie.
Once again told from Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman’s) perspective, X2 is the story about facing your past and not running from what you find there. We see this not only when looking into Wolverine’s life, but that of Stryker’s, Iceman’s, Rogue’s, and others. Like the first one, the theme of being-different-is-okay is prevalent, and comes more into play as the government exercises its power while it seeks to investigate what it doesn’t understand.
The hard part about reviewing an X-Men movie is that everyone does so well in their roles, you can spend a thousand words talking about each. Space doesn’t permit that here, but needless to say I can watch Sir Patrick Stewart’s father-figure and leader role as Professor X all day. Couple that with Sir Ian McKellen’s—Magneto’s—diehard devotion to ensuring mutants are ready for the inevitable confrontation with humans and you can see how these two characters are really two sides of the same coin with both wanting the same goal: peace for mutants. Of course, their means of achieving that goal are completely different from one another.
There’s a real sense of world-building in the X-Men universe, with each location and character fully developed, and as we visit them with each outing, it’s like coming home to old friends.
This movie is more intense than the first because, like I said, the stakes are higher and all those at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters are in some real life-or-death danger.
I also appreciate how they showed that if certain people had these special mutant-enhanced abilities in real life how much of a danger they could be to themselves and to others. This is something not often seen in superhero flicks as the villains in here—even some of the heroes—seemed more misguided than simply evil for evil’s sake. And that’s the kind of world we live in, right? How often are those who do something wrong doing so out of misguided intentions? How many times do we do that ourselves?
I’m really glad they made this movie and made it so well that the franchise has kept going.
I’m proud to stand united with X2: X-Men United.