Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #18 - X-Men 2 (2003)
When disaster strikes Professor X's school and the Professor himself is kidnapped by anti - mutant, Colonel Stryker, the X-Men are forced to form an alliance with Magneto.
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Zak Penn (story), David Hayter (story)
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry
The X-Men series brought home just how human, humans really are. And one of those scenes that brought this home so much more than others was in X-Men 2 (2003). It pit human against mutant (in this scene, it’s Alan Cumming as the mutant with that large arrow tail). In a series of split-second combats - well over a dozen in all. In each little battle that made up that war against the most protected office on planet earth – The White House - the mutant won every single time.
The mutant uses lightning speed, teleportation, acrobatic prowess, more than animal instinct and sheer power to overpower one Secret Service guard after another and they roll and fall and tumble and stagger like nine-pins.
Nightcrawler moves so fast you never really, fully see him until later. Those first frames have him dressed in a long overcoat with a cap – not unlike Lee Falk’s overdressed Mr Walker trying to conceal his identity as The Phantom. You also get brief glimpses in the background of the portraits of a few US Presidents who fell to assassins.
They’ve got the best handguns, the best machine-guns, the best CCTV and motion sensors. But they can barely hear, rarely see their attacker. They point to him. But when they shoot he’s already moved up, down, sideways, forward or backward.
The guards are Asian, Caucasian, Black – essentially the world’s best, protecting the world’s most powerful man. They’ve got the best handguns, the best machine-guns, the best CCTV and motion sensors. But they can barely hear, rarely see their attacker. They point to him. But when they shoot he’s already moved up, down, sideways, forward or backward. When they take aim he’s 20 feet away, when they fire a shot he’s standing next to them, disarming them with incredible ease.
Nightcrawler’s every bit the circus mutant – he leaps from the ground onto your shoulders, then over them. He bounds as a cheetah would and bounces up as chimp would. He cartwheels his way through the most tightly guarded corridors, doors and doorways. He’s on the floor one second, on the wall the next and on the ceiling the very next.
The eventual huddle around the President inside the Oval is so thick he can hardly see through. When Nightcrawler crashes in, he’s so fast it’s more like an inky blue smoke swirling around than an assassin that you can take aim at. And the dark puffs emerge just long enough to de-fang the guards one by one, (sometimes two by two) - until Nightcrawler has the President sprawled on the table.
About the only time Nightcrawler is still – as his tail fetches a knife – and it’s the only time a fallen guard can fire a bullet that actually strikes home.
John Ottman composed the music for X-Men but that opening sequence soars because there’s a mildly adapted version of Mozart’s choral magnum opus ‘’Requiem’’ playing in the background. Nightcrawler loved his music and those opening bars from what must have been one of his beloved pieces, was more than a hint of the sombre mission he was on.