Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair of the X-Men franchise and Days of Future Past is right there with First Class and X2 in quality; very, very good.
Picking up well after the events of X3 and The Wolverine, the entire world seems to have been decimated by a war between Mutants and the non-sympathetic humans and the only hope to save the world for everyone is to reset the timeline completely. The X-Men attempt to do this by sending Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to the 70’s to recruit Magneto and Xavier to work together to stop Mystique from putting history on this path to devastation.
There are a couple of action set pieces in the distant future that bookend the film, but the majority of Days of Future Past is primarily a sequel to First Class. Young Magneto, Xavier, Beast and Raven/Mystique are the emotional and physical core of the film and they are accompanied by time/mind jumping Wolverine.
I think the most surprising thing people will find about this new X-Men film is that it is barely an action movie. There is the opening action set piece and a cross cutting finale, but outside of that there are only two or three small scale set pieces in the movie. This isn’t a complaint in the slightest, the story and emotional character beats are all great, but people who expect the more modern and bombastic action pacing of today’s blockbusters might be caught off guard. It might be the least actiony of any of the X-Men films.
Where the film lacks in action it more than makes up for it in a solid story and some great character interactions. The core four of the First Class cast that they have pared this down to (quite ingeniously actually) is just a talented and endlessly watchable group, Jackman almost feels out of place with this crew at times. Fassbender is not in the first third or so of the film, but his turn here as Magneto is possibly the best work yet in the franchise. Jackman is great as Wolverine, but Fassbender charms you into seeing the double edged sword argument of Magneto’s cause. He gets a few great moments and McAvoy isn’t that far behind. I love the dependency angle they put on Xavier and the stuff he gets to do with Wolverine really resonates as well. Everyone’s arc is motivated by Raven and Lawrence does a fine job of playing her with a depth and vulnerability the character has never had before. She is a loose cannon and that unpredictability helps sell the big emotional swings of the movie.
Days of Future Past upped its budget for the series and you certainly see it up on the screen. The sentinels are creepy and really interesting visually in the future, while the 70’s version homages the purple look of the comics. The Quicksilver stuff looks fantastic and is some of the most fun the series has ever had outside the Nightcrawler White House attack in X2. The future set action bits are intense and fun (portals!) and Singer makes the “deaths” hurt even if we kind of know where everything is going. The finale wrapping up the First Class characters side of things is also an impressive display for Magneto, and I was kind of glad that they, literally, kicked Wolverine put of the drama among that group of characters. The concluding scenes also really resonate for any fans of the series and I wonder how they are going to take this new timeline forward.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is another great entry into the X-Men franchise and sets up the series handsomely going forward for the original and First Class timelines. Singer did a great job of reseting all the bumps along the way for the franchise and allows them to tell new stories with all the characters. More character and story based blockbusters like this please.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is an A-