X2: X-Men United
The leads from the first film are back and joined by Brian Cox (Agamemnon in Troy, Argyle Wallace in Braveheart, and Killearn in Rob Roy) as Colonel William Stryker and Alan Cumming (Boris in Goldeneye) as Kurt Wagner. And once again the film opens with an introduction about mutation and the comment from Professor Xavier that “sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute” [and who else thinks this is something Captain Picard would tell another being?] After that, the action kicks off with a mutant who can pop around in a cloud of blue smoke attacks the president, but once he’s shot, he leaves behind a knife with a banner reading “Mutant Freedom Now” on it. Logan has made it to Alkali Lake in Canada, but it’s deserted. He does spy a white wolf, which can hold various symbolism, including a search for truth I believe.
Back in civilization, Jean, Storm, and Scott are leading a field trip and a trio of teenagers, John, Bobby, and Rogue, get in a bit of trouble. Jean is also experiencing some problems with her powers; they’ve been off in a way since Liberty Island. Her dreams have been worse and she feels something terrible is going to happen. Professor Xavier has to freeze the food court and reprimand John for showing off in front of humans. But then the news story comes in about the attack on the President, so they quickly leave. Colonel Stryker visits the President to request authorization for a special operation, namely to “investigate” Xavier’s school for children. He has access to Eric Lensherr, which Senator Kelly is very interested in (reminder, that is Mystique in disguise). The President agrees that Stryker may “enter, detain, and question,” but he doesn’t want to see a dead mutant kid on the news. Kelly warns Stryker about turning this into some kind of war. (We can tell there is something suspicious going on.)
Logan returns to the mansion and gets left to watch the children while Jean and Storm track down the mutant who attacked the President [there is an error in editing; Jean comments to Logan they’re going to Boston before Xavier uses Cerebro to find the mutant.] Scott and the Professor are going to visit Eric. Charles realizes that Stryker has been using Eric against his will for information against Charles; gas is pumped in and the two older mutants collapse. Stryker’s assistant takes care of Scott. Jean and Storm are able to find the mutant, a teleporter named Kurt Wagner, known in the Munich circus as the Incredible Nightcrawler. He remembers the attack, but like he was watching himself and couldn’t stop it. The back of his neck is scarred (like Magneto’s). Mystique shifts into Stryker’s assistant in order to find out information on the prison where Eric is kept; she also discovers plans for a second Cerebro at a classified location.
Meanwhile, Rogue is very happy to see Logan back at the school and introduces him to Bobby, her boyfriend (and isn’t that a whole load of awkward). Logan wakes in the middle of the night, at the same time that black ops men break into the school and shoot stun darts at the children. Some are able to get away, led by a kid that can cover himself in metal. John and Bobby go back for Rogue while Logan takes out the men. Logan instructs the big kid to watch after the other children. Rogue convinces Bobby to go back for Logan, who is now distracted by Stryker; he remembers this man for some reason and Stryker seems to know things about him. Bobby erects an ice wall between Logan and Stryker. Logan tells Rogue, “Go I’ll be fine.” “But we won’t,” she responds. So Logan takes the three teens. They head to Boston, where he knows Jean will be. Bobby suggests they go to his parents’ house for clothes and he has to reveal that he’s actually a mutant. His younger brother is upset and his mother asks him to try to “not be a mutant” [cringe].
Stryker has kidnapped Charles and Scott and is using his own mutant son to control Charles, having him send illusions into Charles’ head. Charles protests Stryker’s use of his son, but Stryker also won’t admit that the young man is his son whom he’s holding prisoner. His true son died; this is simply mutant number 143. He will admit that mutants serve a purpose, as long as they can be controlled. Charles also realizes that it was Stryker who arranged the attack on the President. Create a situation where his expertise will be required and manipulate the situation to get what he wants. He needed a reason to attack the school and get the specifications of Cerebro. After the attack, the President gave him permission. And breed enough fear against mutants, his method of controlling them will be desired. Mystique charms a man and drugs him in order to gain access to Eric’s prison; by injecting him with lead that Magneto pulls out of him and creates pellets to free himself.
Jean is able to contact Logan, but Bobby’s brother called the cops. Logan tries to calmly talk his way out, but with his claws out, he’s shot for his trouble. John, who controls fire, shoots fireballs at the cops, until Rogue uses her power to stop him and put the fires out. Jean and Storm pick up the teens and Logan. Then two other jets come up on the mutants’ jet and Storm has to distract them. They take a hit and Rogue is sucked out of the plane, though Kurt rescues her. Magneto helps land the plane and both groups have to work together to free Charles. Stryker’s son, James, is putting the illusion in Charles’ head that he has to use Cerebro to locate all the mutants. But the danger is, if Charles concentrates on all the mutants too long, he can kill them. Which is what Stryker wants. Jean is able to read Kurt’s mind to discover that the secret base is underneath Alkali Lake.
They send Mystique in as Wolverine since Stryker is less likely to kill him on sight, but Mystique will be able to man the control center. She gets in, but Stryker recognizes that she is not the true Wolverine, thought she is still able to complete her part of the mission. She lets the others in. Storm and Kurt will free the other children the men captured, while Jean goes with Magneto and Mystique for Charles. Wolverine sneaks out to go after Stryker. Jean runs into Scott, who is being mind-controlled, so Magneto and Mystique go on to Cerebro on their own. Wolverine finds the lab from his nightmares and faces off against Stryker’s assistant, who is also a mutant with adamantium nails and a healing ability like Wolverine’s. He manages to win by injecting her with more adamantium. Then he goes after Stryker and is ready to kill him, despite Stryker’s insistence that he will tell Logan everything. Except he finds out that the dam is going to flood their escape route and goes back in to save his new friends.
A blast from Scott knocks both him and Jean out and when he wakes, he’s back to normal and Jean’s injured her leg. Kurt and Storm manage to get the children and Mystique and Magneto do find Cerebro. “From here it doesn’t look like they’re playing by your rules. Maybe it’s time to play by theirs.” Instead of simply pulling Charles out, Magneto has James tell Charles there is a change of plans. Kill all the humans now. Storm has Kurt teleport her inside since Magneto and Mystique have left. She freezes the inside so James has to stop his control. Kurt gets Storm and Charles out and they are all almost to the spillway when Logan closes the door, right in time to keep them from being flooded. He leads them out, but Stryker’s helicopter is gone, courtesy of Magneto and Mystique. They’ve also gained a follower in John, who goes by Pyro. Magneto told him on the way in that his power makes him a god among insects. Stryker is still alive and once again tries to convince Logan he’s only an animal and who else can give him the truth? Well, Logan will take his chances with the mutants. Stryker shouts after him “one day someone will finish what I’ve started!”
Rogue and Bobby have brought the jet around to rescue everyone, but it won’t start again. Jean senses that the dam is about to give, so she limps out of the plane. She starts it and gets it in the air and won’t let the ramp back down for Scott to come after her. She also manages to keep the water away from the jet and uses the Professor to say good-bye to Scott. Then the jet is in the air and she drowns in the water. All Logan can say is “she’s gone,” and Scott finally breaks down. But they’re not finished yet. The Professor freezes a press conference in the Oval Office and points out the truth of Stryker to the President and urges him to work together for a better future rather than repeating the mistakes of the past. Back at the mansion, Charles tries to comfort Logan and Scott, but they don’t seem terribly convinced. He then goes on to start a lesson with the students on T.H. White’s Once and Future King, which Eric was reading earlier in jail.
The pairings and relationships in this movie…to start, it seems like Rogue may view Logan more as a surrogate father-type figure, since she’s dating Bobby and Bobby seems like a nice guy. He’s not trying to push Rogue, but he would enjoy a kiss once in a while. And it evens works for a second, until it lasts too long. And Logan probably views Rogue in a protective sense, but he doesn’t grill Bobby. As for Logan and Jean; that is a ship that never should have set sail. While Logan’s reaction to her death tugs at the heartstrings, I definitely side with the notion that she should be with Scott; she has a history with him and an understanding. And yes, the two men are united for a moment in their grief for the loss of Jean, but even with Logan telling Scott that Jean chose Scott, I don’t see these two becoming friends. Then there’s Mystique obvious interest in Wolverine which could be interesting in one respect, though creepy how she switched through the various ladies (one of whom may have been Rogue and yeah, definite creepy factor there).
There are hints of Jean’s growing power throughout the film and that is an epic display at the end, lifting the jet and holding back the dam at the same time. And we are left with the notion at the end that all may not be what it seems. But Magneto may be right, that there is a war coming and these are the warning shots.
Up Next: X-Men: The Last Stand