Directed by: Doug Liman
We realize that we are going to be in the minority when we say this but we found this film to be — while not entirely uninteresting — largely bloodless. It is a videogame set on endless repeat, where no matter how many times you die, you simply re-boot back to the starting point and have another go at it. While everyone who reviews this film is inevitably going to make the Groundhog Day reference, we could cite a half a dozen other “time loop” films that essentially do the same thing. The protagonist gets so far, runs into an impasse, then dies/wakes up/whatever, and is reset to the beginning only to try something slightly different and manages to get a little farther in their quest until Bingo, we’re there and resolution…
Yeah, wake me when it’s over.
Sorry kids, this is one of the reasons why we don’t play videogames any more. The repetition is killing us. Actual forward plot movement is replaced with the illusion of forward movement. Don’t get us wrong, the action is spot on, the acting is engaging enough, there is a fair amount of gallows humor to make the endless re-boots entertaining enough, but we simply can’t get past the sameness of it all coupled with the obvious derivative nature of both the story itself as well as all of the visuals (the alien race looks like a cross between the Matrix creatures and Transformers, while the “drop wire” nature of the attack riffs on Starship Trooper (the book, not the crappy film adaptation); while the invasion of Normandy harkens back to Private Ryan; and then there’s the whole Groundhog’s Day thing again — yeah, this one didn’t do anything for us especially as the ending of the film is telegraphed all the way through the film itself due to the very nature of the “Time Loop/Re-boot” scenario built into the plot.
OK, let’s talk about that plot; it is based on the Japanese Young Adult Manga novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka about an alien race that has invaded the Earth in an unrelenting assault that has proven to be nearly unbeatable by any military unit. The invading forces have now conquered all of Asia and Europe, and The united allied earth forces are once again massing for an invasion from England into France. Major William Cage (Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat (he was ROTC and went into marketing, but when the war broke out, his business collapsed, so he joined up to help market next-gen combat gear to combat the invaders). Unfortunately for him, he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission, the invasion itself, which the aliens somehow to know about in advance. Killed within minutes of hitting the beach, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop that forces him to re-live the same brutal combat day over and over, fighting and dying over and over again. However, as stated, with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Blunt). As Cage and Vrataski take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.
Again, the visuals are interesting enough, the story isn’t all bad, the acting is fine, and the characters themselves have depth, it is just the underlying package that leaves us cold. Your mileage may vary.
Robert j. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.