As the title suggests, "X-Men: Days of Future Past" involves time travel, one of the trickiest science-fiction plot devices to effectively pull off in a movie without confusing audiences or creating gaping holes in a story's inner-logic.
Like, where did Quicksilver go?
"X-Men: Days of Future Past"★ ★ ★
Starring: James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Peter Dinklage, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Other: A 20th Century Fox release. Rated PG-13 for language, nudity, sexual situations, violence. 131 minutes
Evan Peters' mutant Quicksilver -- the Marvel equivalent of DC Comics' The Flash -- creates the cinematic piece de resistance in Bryan Singer's epic and spectacular next chapter in the "X-Men" franchise.
While trying to bust out Magneto from a prison 100 stories under the Pentagon, Quicksilver goes into motion overdrive when security agents fire their guns point blank at his fellow mutants.
As Quickie breaks into super speed, Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" plays on the soundtrack and the action in the room around him lapses into excruciating slow motion, so slow that Quicksilver can calmly run rings around the agents while still having time to deflect the incrementally advancing bullets before they strike his friends.
It's an exciting segment of effects choreography climaxed when Quicksilver resumes regular speed and the agents suddenly punch themselves out in a marvelous mix of physical comedy and superhero bravado.
Peters' quirky costumed Quicksilver is such a showstopper (or show slower-downer) that when the character inexplicably drops out of the movie, we miss him. Especially since his mutant peers could have used his accelerated abilities in later scenes.
In a bleak and desolate future (described as "dark" by voice-over narration), old rivals Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) have apparently joined forces to stop the mutant genocide being waged by the Sentinels, shape-shifter-like robots with the power to instantly adapt to new threats.
Blame it all on the blue Mystique (reprised by Jennifer Lawrence), the scaly mutant who assassinated Dr. Bolivar Trask ("Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage) back in 1973, convincing a mutant-phobic America that her kind must be destroyed. Authorities capture Mystique, and scientists use her chameleonic DNA to create the Sentinels, unstoppable perfect mutant tracking executioners.
Hugh Jackman's Wolverine -- the franchise's de-facto figurehead -- volunteers to send his consciousness back to his 1973 body in a desperate attempt to stop Mystique from assassinating Trask, thereby preventing the future present.
Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) uses a mutant form of shock treatment to send Wolverine's psyche into his younger self. The re-creation of the early '70s is a blast with Dr. Trask's huge knotted ties and big collars, period autos and Mark Camacho's uncanny portrait of President Richard M. Nixon, who probably appreciates the mutant invasion of the White House as a distraction from the Watergate scandal.
James McAvoy plays the younger version of Professor X, struggling under a drug that allows him to walk while silencing the voices in his head. As he did in "X-Men: First Class," Michael Fassbender brings gravitas to the younger Magneto, here implicated in the Kennedy assassination. (Finally, the "magic bullet" explained!)
Singer, who directed the first "X-Men" movie 14 years ago, brings back a joyful comic book feel to the series. Although the movie maintains a constant tone of speechy seriousness, it packs enough fanboy in-jokes (the 1973 Wolverine can't believe he didn't set off that metal detector) to keep things moving along for its 132-minute running time.
Supporting mutants Storm (Halle Berry), Blink (Fan Bingbing) and especially Rogue (Anna Paquin) are nearly cameo appearances here, none registering much of an impact.
Not so with Nicholas Hoult's Beast, a Hulk of a different color, and Peters' Quicksilver, the only character so far to cross over from the X-Men to the Avengers (in the future "Age of Ultron").
He's no flash in the pan.