The movie opens in New York City in a dystopian future, switches to Moscow, where robotic Sentinels patrol the skies. There is a group of mutants, many of them recognizable by those who have seen earlier X-Men movies. They are popping in and out of created rifts in space-time, to fight back against giant robots who can duplicate their powers. Professor Xavier is monitoring in despair: “So few of us left!” In China, Storm, Wolverine, Iceman, Magneto, and the Professor are in hiding. The story is that Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) designed the Sentinel robots. Mystique hunted him down and killed him in 1973, the first time she killed a human being, but Trask Industries captured and tortured her, and used her DNA to finish creating the huge mutant-killers. The plan is to go back in time and stop her, using Kitty Pride’s powers, but sending someone so far would probably kill them, so Wolverine volunteers, as the only one who can heal as fast as time rips him apart. He must find both the young Professor X and the young Magneto.
Logan wakes up in the past, in his younger body, lying on a waterbed with a girl beside him, as he watches a lava lamp. Outside, a billboard selling cigarettes is blowing smoke. It’s 1973 all right. In the process of taking out three goons sent to kill him for sleeping with a mobster’s daughter, he discovers that bones instead of adamantine blades come out of his fingers.
Trask is speaking to Congress, warning of the rise of the mutant. “We are the Neanderthals,” he says, convincing them to finance his Sentinel program. Mystique takes the form of a U.S. officer in Vietnam, examining mutant soldiers under quarantine. They are to be sent to Trask. The guards have no clue and no chance against Mystique, she rescues the mutants and takes off with them. Logan shows up at the Xavier school, which is in disrepair. Young Hank McCoy answers the door, not recognizing Logan, and says there is no Professor. After a little tussle between Wolverine and Beast, Logan explains to Xavier, who can walk but has no powers, that Xavier himself sent him back from the future to find him and Magneto so they can stop Raven from killing Trask and setting the human/mutant war in motion. Xavier has become despondent and nihilistic, using drugs that restore the use of his legs at the cost of his mental powers. Also, it seems Magneto is being held in a sub-sub-basement of the Pentagon because he killed JFK with mind-controlled bullets.
Mystique in the form of Trask walks into his office, finds his files on all known mutants and has his secretary copy them. Xavier, McCoy, and Logan visit Quicksilver (Evan Peters) in his mother’s basement, playing ping-pong with himself at warp speed, and find him quite willing to break into the Pentagon and spring Magneto. The scene in which they do so is one of the most amusing, in my opinion, of all the Marvel Movies.
Oh, hell, it’s just a great movie. Those who never saw (or can’t remember) the Seventies will not get all the jokes, but this is probably the best of all the X-Men films. Brian Silver is back in the director’s chair, erasing from Time the events of X-Men: The Last Stand—the only one of the original Trilogy he did not direct. I can’t list the cast here because it is pretty much the entire mutant cast of all the previous X-Men movies, played by the original actors, and yet the story is not chaotic—even the final conflict, which takes place in two different time-streams at once and is spectacular, even for a Marvel movie.