During World War II in 1944, Scientist Sebastian Shaw(Kevin Bacon) notices a teenager named Erik Lensherr who can attract metals in one of the Polish concentration camps. In order to fully exploit Erik’s abilities which is driven by rage, Sebastian kills Erik’s mother in front of him. At the same time in New York, an young Charles Xavier finds a hungry Raven in his kitchen. Charles uses his telepathic powers to read Raven’s mind. Raven is a shapeshifter struggling to fit in. Charles invites Raven to live in his house. At present in 1962, Erik(Michael Fassbender) is on a mission to kill Sebastian. His search leads him to a banker in Switzerland to Argentina to Miami. While Erik is busy tracing the whereabouts of Sebastian, Charles(James McAvoy) is doing a thesis on mutation. He uses his telepathic powers to impress the college girls while hanging out with Raven(Jennifer Lawrence). Raven is still extremely conscious about her looks.
1962 is a tumultuous year. America and Russia are on a path towards nuclear confrontation. A CIA agent Moira MacTaggart(Rose Bryne) sees an younger-looking Sebastian at a club in Las Vegas along with an US Army Colonel. She also witnesses the superhuman powers of Emma Frost(January Jones) and Azazel(Jason Flemyng). Unable to explain the events she just witnessed, Moira tracks down Charles who is an expert in mutation. Moira convinces the bosses the existence of the specially gifted people referred as mutants. CIA decides to track down Sebastian with the help of Charles. Soon, Erik and Charles are bound for Miami in search of Sebastian. Although Sebastian escapes from Erik and also the government forces, Charles and Erik meets for the first time. A bond is formed between the two. They search for people like them in order to stop Sebastian. Their search leads to Dr Hank McCoy, Angel Salvadore, Armando Munoz, Sean Cassidy and Alex Summers. They become the first class of X-men.
Matthew Vaughn directs this action movie inspired by the characters created by Marvel comics. He explores the beginnings of the X-men by tracing the path of two men – Erik and Charles. Setting the premise against the fear and distrust created by the nuclear crisis of 1962, he tells a story of uniquely gifted people looking for acceptance. The lives of Erik and Charles follow a parallel path in the beginning. Then, they meet, bond and work together. At the end, their lives are separated because of their conflicting ideologies on the means to the ends. Matthew’s success lies in finding the best fits for these two roles and also showing a raw side to these characters. Erik is consumed by rage while Charles is at times a boy. Matthew effortlessly moves between multiple locations and multitude of characters without confusing the viewer. The training scenes deserves a special mention. How the various characters learn to focus and maximize their skills are a delight to watch. Additional drama is provided by the conflict experienced by Hank and Raven on their discomfort with their looks. Matthew fails in VFX and production values. The movie looks cheap at many places.
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr is a scene stealer. Michael’s Erik is consumed by rage at the atrocities committed during the war years. Though he has compassion towards similarly gifted people known as mutants, he is essentially a cynic. He learns to control his rage at the end. Michael successfully shows the pent up anger and the abundant energy with his body language. James McAvoy as Charles leaves an impression. James’s Charles is not yet the wheelchair bound wise man. But you can see the glimpses of him in the performance. James also brings out the wisdom, patience and also frustrations of a man trying to keep him kin together effectively on the screen. Michael and James displays an excellent chemistry during the playful exchanges during the training sessions and the philosophy exchanges. One of the scenes to watch out for is when Charles helps Erik find a pleasant memory from the darkest corners of Erik’s mind. Both of them are in tears at the end of this exercise. Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn appear as cameos paying homage to their respective characters in the earlier trilogy.
This will never match the magic of the X-men movies directed by Bryan Singer. At the same time, this one is not a disappointment. If you have nothing else to do, this is a good option.