After the teaser at the end of The Wolverine this film attempts to unite the two continuities, one that started with the original X-Men in 2000 and the X-Men: First Class film released in 2011. Cast members from both franchises appear leading to mixture of old a new faces with of course Hugh Jackman at the forefront as he once again takes up the role of Wolverine.
As I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past I did it scratching my head as I tried to make sense of the different plot threads and which bits from the past films were relevant to the proceedings here, and which ones seem to have been forgotten for the sake of convenience.
Right, then, this is the plot as best I can figure it out…
In the further-future of the not-too-distant-future we are familiar with, it seems that mutants have been all but eradicated thanks to a new weapon called Sentinels. They are robots that are programmed to hunt down and destroy mutants. They cannot be beaten because they possess Mystique’s ability to mimic mutant powers, so whatever strengths to mutants use to fight them off they absorb that power and use against the mutant attacking them. Kitty (the girl who could walk through walls) also possesses the ability to transfer a person’s consciousness into their younger self and so they use this to stay one step ahead of the sentinels.
It turns out that the sentinel programme was initially started when Mystique killed Bolivar Trask in 1973. The mutants, including Xavier (Patrick Stewart returning to the role) and Magneto (Ian McKellen also reprising the character), decide that if they can send Wolverine’s mind back to the 1970s, he can unite with Xavier and Magneto of that time and if they prevent Mystique assassinating Trask they can stop the sentinel programme from ever starting…
Still with me??
So Wolverine is transferred into his younger-self and sets off to find the young Charles Xavier (played again by James McAvoy) who is basically a recluse having lost hope after the events of X-Men: First Class and uses a drug that gives him the ability to walk but also suppresses his telepathic powers. Wolverine manages to convince him of who he is and convinces him to reunite with Magneto (Michael Fassbender), unfortunately, that proves to be a little tricky because he is incarcerated in the prison beneath the Pentagon after he was accused of assassinating John. F Kennedy.
Fortunately they are able to break him out and they set off after Mystique, unfortunately, in the future the sentinels are closing in, and if Kitty breaks the connection, then the Wolverine of the past will have no idea what is going on and will be unable to use the knowledge his future-self possess.
That’s all pretty straightforward stuff I think…
Now as you are aware, I was a fan of X-Men, X-Men 2 and X-Men: First Class, and not so bothered about the other editions to the franchise. The continuity issues I still find irritating but I’ll come onto that later.
Now Days of Future Past certainly hasn’t spared any expense on the cast, which boasts the likes of Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart with most of the cast returning to roles that they have played on and off since the first film in 2000.
This is an impressive array of famous faces and as most of them are veterans at playing these characters they fit back into their roles seemingly effortlessly. The visual effects are top notch and the story is very impressive. A particular highlight for me is when James McAvoy’s Xavier is trying to determine if Wolverine is telling him the truth so Wolverine invites him to read his mind, and through him, Xavier is able to have a conversation with this older self. He asks why he has to suffer and why he feels so much pain and he is told my his much wiser older-self that is his greatest ability. It is not that he can read minds, or influence people, it is that he can share a person’s pain, he can make their pain less. The sequence is expertly shot with James McAvoy coming face to face with Patrick Stewart and is one of the most interesting ideas ever portrayed in any film.
Continuing the continuity of the X-Men: First Class film is also done exceptionally well and shows what has been happening to the young faces we saw just starting to come to grips with the idea of a world full of mutants.
But now I have come onto the issue of continuity, this film links characters young and old with films that are obviously all canon. So, if everything we have seen up to this point is all canon, then how come when Wolverine lost his adamantium claws at the end of The Wolverine and we clearly saw that he only has his bone claws now, how has he got his adamantium claws again?? How is Patrick Stewart’s Xavier alive when we saw him get killed by Jean Grey when she was consumed by the Dark Phoenix persona?? Now that one could be explained by the end credits scene after The Last Stand because we do hear his voice but surely he wouldn’t look like himself if he has transferred his consciousness into a new body that was not his own??
Time travel always screws with continuity, which is exactly the point of it, however, there are so many things that just don’t fit with the ideas or events we have witnessed in the films running up to this one. Apparently when Mystique was captured, or a sample of her blood retrieved, it was used as the basis to create the sentinels, but why has it taken decades to use that information?? If Trask was at the forefront then I don’t see why it took the governments of the world years to develop his research into a weapon. Also if they were able to use genetic material to give machines such a power then why haven’t they used it to benefit mankind?? The further-future witnessed here is a bleak and dark place with mutants in camps, and any humans who have sympathised with them also being shown to have been locked up.
By the way, you may be wondering why Anna Paquin’s name features so high in the credits when she essentially cameos, well apparently she was supposed to have a much larger role initially. She was going to be rescued from a prison so that she could take over from Kitty but it was decided her presence would take away the tension of the situation somewhat so she was effectively written out of the story.
My criticisms are the complaints of someone who likes everything to fit together which cannot be done unless the entire film series had been written together rather than one at a time and then linked to the others. It has to be said that my complaints are just minor factors so it is probably best to just forget the continuity issues that don't make sense and focus on the ones that do.
I really enjoyed this film and the blending of the original and the new cast is a very good idea that is superbly executed. I am being picky about the continuity but that is only because I find things like that to be irritating, but it in no way stops me from enjoying every moment of the film and giving it a well deserved Thumbs Up
9/10 – Superb film that brings together some of the finest actors currently working today, and it is a treat to see them interacting with one another in this way.