It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"X2: X-Men United" is the kind of movie you enjoy for its moments, even though they never add up. Made for (and possibly by) those with short attention spans, it lives in the present, providing one amazing spectacle after another, and not even trying to develop a story arc. Having trained on the original "X-Men" (2000), i tried to experience the film entirely in the present, and the fact is, i had a good time. Dumb, but good.
Like the comic books that inspired it, "X2" begins with the premise that mutant heroes with specialized superpowers exist among us. Name the heroes, assign the powers, and you're ready for perfunctory dialogue leading up to a big two-page spread in which sleek and muscular beings hurtle through dramatic showdowns.
Like all the characters in the Marvel Comics stable, the X-Men have psychological or political problems; in the first movie they were faced with genocide, and in this one their right to privacy is violated with the Mutant Registration Act. Of course there will be audience members who believe mutants should have no rights, and so "X2" provides a valuable civics lesson. (How you register a mutant who can teleport or shape-shift is not explained.) Perhaps not coincidentally, the movie has a president who looks remarkably like George W. Bush. The film opens with one of its best scenes, as a creature with a forked tail attacks the White House and whooshes down corridors and careens off walls while the Secret Service fires blindly. The creature's purpose is apparently to give mutants a bad name, inspiring still more laws undermining their rights.
Despite all of the havoc and carnage of the first film, just about everybody is back for the sequel. Amazing, that they weren't all killed. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) still runs his private school for young mutants, Magneto (Ian McKellen) still plots against him, and there is a new villain named Gen. William Stryker (Brian Cox) who is assigned by the government to deal with the mutant threat and uses the turncoat mutant Yuriko (Kelly Hu) on his team.