After the stunning success of the first X-Men film a sequel was inevitable. Fortunately, director Bryan Singer has returned with it, along with the core cast of the first film as well as a number of welcome new faces.
X2 begins with an exceptionally shot visual effects driven scene where a mutant attempts to kill the President of the United States. After the failed assassination attempt, General William Striker (Brian Cox) – a military scientist who shares a mysterious past with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) – is given the go ahead to seize Professor Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) School for the Gifted, and imprison any mutants found within it, including Xavier himself.
To rescue the professor and the other mutants, the remaining X-Men – among them Wolverine, Storm (Halle Berry) and Jean Grey (Famke Jannsen) – must form an uneasy alliance with their nemesis Magneto (Ian McKellan) who has plans of his own.
Singer takes the template from the first film and enhances it considerably, as better story, better effects, and better acting gives way to a much darker, violent, and entertaining X-Men film.
Singer also continues to push the mutant / homosexual connection with a “coming out” of sorts as Ice Man reveals to his suburbanite parents that he is a mutant, and also takes on the theme of faith with the devout Catholic, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) .The love triangle between Wolverine, Jean Grey, and Cyclops is also developed further.
A number of new characters are successfully introduced, most notably the before mentioned Nightcrawler, the beautiful yet deadly Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), and Gen. Striker, who is played menacingly by character actor extraordinaire Brian Cox.
The returning cast members all deliver solid performances, especially Hugh Jackman who is a force of nature as Wolverine.
The action has been bumped up with a number of exhilarating sequences, which includes a dogfight between the X-Men and two fighter jets, and a cracker of a fight scene between Jackman’s Wolverine and Hu’s Deathstrike.
Costume and set designs are still top notch, whilst the make-up heads have outdone themselves with the Nightcrawler.
The film ends on a shocking note which keeps in line with its dark tone, and sets up the certain sequel which will have its work cut out for it, if the films producers intend to match the level of quality found here.