It’s the future – well, kind of the future, as it’s basically the same as today only with robot fighting suits and aliens. First we got the aliens, who are slowly but surely taking over Europe; then we created the battle suits so the people fighting the aliens would last more than five seconds. For sleazy PR expert Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) this is someone else’s problem – his job is to sell war, not fight it – until General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders him to join the first wave of the attack and film it for the folks back home. Cage refuses point-blank. He’s demoted, branded a deserter, and assigned to a frontline unit. It’s all downhill for him from there, ending with Cruise blundering around a hellish battle zone trying to find the safety on his guns until he gets killed. Then he wakes up back at boot camp and has to do it all over again. And again. And again. Eventually he runs into the “Angel of Verdun”, super-cool badass Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the only one who knows what’s happened to him: having been doused in alien blood when he died, he now has access to the aliens’ ability to reset time. But is one day enough to turn the tide of the war, no matter how many times he repeats it?
Just because the big action scene is the beach scene from Saving Private Ryan, the robot battle suits are from Aliens and the main plot device comes from Groundhog Day (or Source Code), doesn’t mean this isn’t a lot of fun. Director Doug Liman keeps things moving fast and the tone light. The alien Mimics – which feels like a name left over from an earlier draft (it’s based on a Japanese YA novel titled All You Need Is Kill), as these aliens don’t actually “mimic” anything – are little more than twirly tentacle monsters; a scary threat and little more, and where both Groundhog Day and Source Code added a bit of gravity to the idea of endlessly repeating the same day, this takes the opposite tack, largely playing the repeats either for laughs or just as chances to level his character up.
Some moments that stand out: a plan to sneak into Allied HQ becomes a dance around security and Cruise does a solid job of suggesting Cage’s growing attachment to Rita in the small gaps allowed to him. The only let down here is a somewhat flat ending. Even when you can repeat the same day forever, eventually your luck has to run out.
Written by Anthony Morris