Though he is something like eighth-billed, "X2's" secret weapon and most persuasive performance comes from Brian Cox as the evil Stryker. This will not surprise anyone who's seen Cox's unforgettable work as the original Hannibal Lecter in "Manhunter" or as Big John, the child molester with a heart of gold in "L.I.E." One of the best and least appreciated of today's film actors, Cox has a powerfully convincing way with under-your-skin evil.
Actually, the acting in "X2" is better than average for this kind of movie, with Jackman being especially effective as the muscular, tortured Wolverine, who finds out more about his past and gets to battle the equally fierce Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) in the film's action centerpiece.
One of the unexpected aspects of "X2" is the way its concerns seem to be uncannily relevant today, starting with an opening observation that "sharing the world has never been humanity's defining attribute." And the central theme of both the film and the comic -- how relentlessly suspicious we are of those who are different -- has equal resonance just now. "X2" might not be the place you'd think to look for any kind of message, but there you are.