X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Art & Culture

If you don't mind being confused, and are happy to be impressed with the visual spectacle of this film, then you might enjoy yourself. If you're looking for coherent narrative and character building, you came through the wrong door.My verdict? I'm sitting on the fence.

because yes, there is a certain amount to admire in this mess of a film, in the performances of Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence (quality will out even in a blockbuster), and some of the set pieces, notably the one staged in and around The White House as the climax of the movie. But you've also got a script which appears to have been written by someone listening to thrash metal on headphones, and not really paying attention to the world as we know it.

The film starts like a train, except we don't know what platform it's leaving from or even if there's a driver. Eventually we learn that the remaining X Men are under attack from the Sentinels, a kind of very advanced form of Terminators – indestructible, able to adapt, and relentless. It further appears that the power of the Sentinels stems from an event that took place about 50 years earlier, when a man was killed; the results of which are now with them. So clearly the only solution is to send someone back in time, and make sure the guy doesn't get killed.

The only suitable applicant for the job is Wolverine (the perennial Hugh Jackman) since although both Magneto and the Professor are alive and well, and have joined forces against the common enemy, they don't have the wherewithal. And also, since Wolverine is traveling back to talk to their younger selves, it saves for time/space continuum complexities. So with Ellen page holding his head (which she does throughout the film), the man with the spikes in his hands travels back down the worm of time, to find James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, and persuade them to join forces to find Mystique/Raven (JLaw), and persuade her not to pull the trigger.

The target in question in is Bolivar Trask (played by the incomparable Peter Dinklage) a man committed to the overthrow of the Mutants, in which mission he is aided by none of them Tricky Dicky aka President Nixon. The year to which Wolverine has returned in 1973 (which allows for some not-so-cool fashion accessories), and takes place during the Paris peace talks at the end of the Vietnam War. Don't ask me why, it just does. The whole time travel thing is very Back To The Future, and although it generates some amusement, it also begs a whole lot of questions that the film wisely doesn't try to answer. 

And eventually we reach the climx with the will-they/won't-they? stuff that I always find somewhat tedious, since we all know what will happen. The amazing thing is that any tension is generated at all. I've lost count of the X Men films and spinooffs, though I'm pretty sure we're still only in single figures. Director Bryan Singer has returned for this one – maybe he felt the franchise needed a kick up the arse – and as I say, some of it looks great. But there is also a great deal of nonsense.

There's one personal highlight, which will be of interest to almost no one else. As Magneto prepares to do something extraordinary to a football stadium, the groundsman watches him with amazement. In the groundsman's wheelbarrow is a radio. On the radio is a song by Little Feat called Dixie Chicken. Possibly the most surprising thing in the whole film.