Continuing our recap of X2, the Marvel mutant sequel directed by Brian Singer. When we left off last week, Professor Charles Exxxavier and Cyclops had been captured by Stryker, Nightcrawler had been captured by Jean Grey and Storm, and a bunch of soldiers were just beginning an assault on Xavier’s school.
The soldiers burst into the kids’ bedrooms and shoot them in their sleep with tranquilizer darts. Things seem to be going according to plan until they run into this girl…
who sinks through her bed and the floor, then escapes by running through a couple of walls. That’s right, it’s Kitty Pryde, although she’s played by a different actress than in the first movie.
In the kitchen, Wolverine has been alerted by the sound of booted feet and uses his claws to dispatch the first soldier he sees. Jackman actually tries to play Wolverine’s berserker rage here a little bit, forcing himself to calm down before asking if Bobby is all right.
Things get worse for the assault team when they burst into the room of a girl who emits a high-pitched scream that shatters windows and wakes up everybody left in the school (for you comics fans playing Mutant Bingo, this is Siryn, Banshee’s daughter). She’s soon knocked out by tranq darts, but before she can be kidnapped away, this guy shows up.
He’s Colossus. I wish he had a bigger role, not only because this effect looks awesome, but also because he was a central member of the new X-Men from their introduction in Giant-Size X-Men #1.
After defeating the soldiers, Colossus, transformed back into his human form as Peter Rasputin, grabs the unconscious Siryn and leads the other kids to a secret panel where they can escape. Wolverine meets him there, after killing a half-dozen or so soldiers. He hands Peter the unconscious TV kid and tells him to protect the younger kids. Bye-bye, Colossus.
Meanwhile, Bobby has grabbed Pyro to search for Rogue. They find her and try to escape, but find their way blocked by soldiers. Things look bad for them until Wolverine leaps down from a balcony.
Much of Wolverine’s action in this sequence seems to be a play on his similar battle with agents of the Hellfire Club in X-Men issue #133 during John Byrne’s run. But for all the men he kills, there is never a drop of blood on either his claws or his clothes.
Wolverine sends the kids down another secret tunnel and stays behind to fight a rear-guard action, when the soldiers are told to stand down by Stryker. And Stryker knows Wolverine.
He taunts Logan about his forgotten past and implies he has the answers Wolverine seeks. But before Wolverine can push him for more details, Bobby throws an ice wall between them (Rogue begged Bobby to turn back and help Logan). Wolverine escapes with the three teens in Cyclops’s car. Wolverine decides to head to Boston to link up with Storm and Jean. Bobby mentions that his parents live there.
Back at the mansion, Stryker’s men use a special machine to bypass the security on Cerebro. It seems as if the attack on the students was just a feint to cover this, their real objective. Hmmm…
Meanwhile, the prison guard we saw beating up on Magneto last week is drinking away his troubles in a bar. On the TV, a couple of talking heads are debating the mutant menace, and check out who one of those talking heads is.
Hank McCoy, also known as Beast, one of the founding members of the original X-Men. The actor here really looks a lot like the Hank McCoy of the comics., although this moment will later become out of continuity for the movies, since it will be established in X-Men: First Class that McCoy became his blue-furred version back in the 60’s. But then again, there was that brief run of Amazing Adventures which first introduced the blue-furred Beast, in which he would don a latex mask to look like his former human self. Maybe that’s what he’s doing here.
But back to the bar, where the guard meets an amazing-looking woman in a short, blue, lizard-skin dress who calls herself Grace.
The meta-joke here is that this is Rebecca Romijn, appearing on camera sans her Mystique make-up to play Mystique-in-disguise. She lures the guard into the bathroom, but instead of sex, he just passes out from the drugs she slipped into his beer. Then she injects his buttocks with a huge syringe containing what looks like liquid metal.
Professor X wakes up in a grungy underground base at Alkali Lake, the place where Xavier sent Wolverine. And the sickly green of the walls certainly matches the creepy green of Wolverine’s memories. Stryker has fitted Xavier with a neural inhibitor to contain his mental powers. During their conversation, we learn that Stryker and Xavier have known each other for a long time; Stryker asked Xavier to cure his son of his mutation, but Xavier refused, saying mutation was not a disease.
Stryker plans to use Xavier to locate all the world’s mutants. Xavier refuses, so Stryker introduces him to his son, Jason, who can cast mental illusions into the minds of others. He has been lobotomized and is now wheelchair bound, like Xavier himself.
It is Jason’s brain which supplies the fluid Stryker used to control Magneto and Nightcrawler (Stryker himself ordered the hit on the President to authorize his mission) as well as his assistant Yuriko. For those playing along at home, Jason is a heavily-modified version of Mastermind (Jason Wyngarde), the mind-controlling mutant who facilitated Jean Grey’s first transformation into Dark Phoenix.
In Boston, Wolverine and the teens enter Bobby Drake’s home. Bobby finds them clothes to replace their pajamas (and of course, peeks while Rogue is changing). Bobby’s parents arrive, making for an awkward situation.
Meanwhile, at the prison, a smiling guard (improbably happy considering he passed out in a bathroom and woke up without the beautiful blonde, but with an incredible ache in his ass) enters Magneto’s cell with breakfast. Magneto draws the excess metal in his bloodstream out through the poor guy’s pores…
Then uses the balls of metal to break the plastic walls of his cell and escape.
Back in Boston, Bobby is having an awkward “coming-out” discussion with his parents. It’s written so that you could replace the word “mutant” with “gay” and the scene would still make perfect sense. That’s right, being gay is a superpower! They should call it “coming out of the phone booth.”
Unfortunately, Bobby’s little brother isn’t happy with Bobby getting all the attention, so he calls the cops, which results in Wolverine getting shot in the head. Without adult supervision, Pyro suddenly turns into the world’s biggest delinquent and fries the cops.
But like Wolverine’s bloodless killing of the soldiers, Pyro’s fire in the cops’ faces just results in a little singing of their uniforms. Before he can seriously hurt anybody, Rogue absorbs his powers and douses his flames. And luckily, the X-Jet arrives at just that moment so they can make a quick getaway. Poor Bobby gets one last puppy-dog look at his family huddling in the window, terrified.
At Alkali Lake, Professor X is trapped in Jason’s illusions. Convinced that his students have disappeared, he decides to track them down using Cerebro.
As the X-Jet nears the mansion, it is intercepted by two F-16 fighter jets. The X-Men are ordered to land, but Storm says screw that and rabbits, summoning a flock of tornadoes to cover their escape.
But one of the jets manages to lock its missiles and fire. Storm, who has been coolly outflying military jet pilots, suddenly turns useless so that Jean can have her turn at the Wheel of Awesome. Her eyes flash with red flame as her power surges and she destroys one of the missiles.
That leaves one missile to hit the X-Jet. Rogue (who is still no damn good at working seat belts) is sucked out of the plane. Nightcrawler teleports out and saves her, but like an idiot, he brings her back into the plane, which is crashing.
Until Magneto stops it just feet from crashing into the ground.
The X-Men call an uneasy truce with Magneto as he fills them in on Stryker’s plans: to use Cerebro to locate and kill every mutant on Earth (remember last week when Xavier mentioned he could kill people with Cerebro if he concentrated hard enough?).
This middle, post-halfway lull is often boring in films, but I like this one, because of all the character interaction. Rogue thanks Nightcrawler for saving her life, and for once, he actually smiles.
Nightcrawler was always one of my favorite X-Men, but he was also kind of a wasted character in the comics. Cockrum and Claremont could never agree on how to play him (Cockrum liked him as a swashbuckling Errol Flynn fan, while Claremont seemed to like making him a tortured Catholic), and John Byrne just never seemed to like him at all.
His appearance here is similarly uneven. The self-inflicted scars of “angelic symbols” look pretty awesome, but I don’t like what they say about his character (not to mention the fact that actor Alan Cumming refused to do any more movies because the make-up was such a pain to apply).
In the comics, of course, he was furry, like Beast (hence his horrid Claremont-inflicted nickname of “fuzzy-elf”–GAH!), but I don’t mind them losing the fur. Cumming does a really good job of putting life into the character, and the teleportation effects are awesome, but I kind of wish we’d gotten more of this fun, cocky Nightcrawler and not the hangdog, rosary-counting dude we’ve been seeing up to now.
Jean uses her telepathy to read Nightcrawler’s mind and locate the base, and then has a brief moment with Wolverine where he tries to seduce her, but she chooses Cyclops definitively, once and for all. Nightcrawler and Mystique, fellow blue-skinned mutants, share a brief moment (made only a little icky by the fact that in the comics, Mystique is Nightcrawler’s mother), and then Wolverine has a moment of sexy time with Jean in his tent, only to discover it’s Mystique having a bit of fun. She also shapeshifts to Storm and Rogue before leaving, and who thought that the way to Mystique’s heart was via claws through the abdomen?
With their plane repaired, the group flies north to Alkali Lake. Magneto and Mystique taunt Rogue (having nearly killed her last movie), but Magneto subtly tries to recruit Pyro by telling him he is a “god among insects.” And I like the little touch of Magneto asking Pyro his “real name” after Pyro introduces himself as John.
They arrive at Alkali Lake and we get the obligatory “sand table” sequence (in this case, it’s a 3-D holographic display) setting out the terrain of the climax.
It’s kind of half-assed, though, in that it merely sets up the first stage of the assault instead of describing the whole plan. Wolverine volunteers to do the initial breach, but Magneto insists that Mystique should do it. Who will win?
Join us next week to find out.