Copyright © 2014 by Warner Bros. Pictures
The world is invaded by aliens known as the Mimics and the United Defense Forces (UDF) have devised a plan for an all-out attack, reminiscent of the operation in Normandy Beach. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) has been requested to join in the combat at the beaches of France to which he strongly objects, indicating his limited exposure in the battlefield. He is arrested for blackmailing his superior, General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) and awakens at a forward operating base in Heathrow Airport. He is killed almost immediately after the drop-off but not before destroying an ‘Alpha’ Mimic. The Mimic’s blood infused with his enables him to relive the same day over and over again. With each day on a loop, he trains to become stronger and more tactical with the aid of Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). Having the upper-hand, they join forces to end the source of the aliens’ dominance.
At the height of his popularity, Cruise was one of the most powerful and influential men in Hollywood, headlining countless hits from drama (Jerry Maguire), thriller (The Firm), action (Mission: Impossible), science fiction (War of the Worlds) to supporting turns in comedy (Tropic Thunder) and even musical (Rock of Ages). Yup, you read right. He is quite a crooner. True, the film tanked at the box office but his showstopping performance raised its overall lackluster and slightly indecisive direction. Basically, he can do no wrong in any given role he embarks on.
It is unfortunate then that his career suffered a setback to public scrutiny and is no longer the golden boy he once was. His projects ever since the debacle have still been entertaining but diminishing returns for his more original entries are visibly obvious in the local box office. His international appeal remains unfazed though, which is why riskier ventures such as ‘Valkyrie’, ‘Knight and Day’ and ‘Jack Reacher’ are considered commercial successes. He seemed to be on a comeback trail through last year’s ‘Oblivion’ but the lukewarm reception from critics and audiences alike indicated his fellow Americans still needed some convincing.
Not too much convincing I hope. Based on the Japanese novel ‘All You Need Is Kill’, this big budget gamble has Cruise back in top form through a visually stunning and intelligently written piece of fiction. It is in the league of his other sci-fi classic, ‘Minority Report’ where Steven Spielberg’s gem of a movie offered the same thrill, suspense and wit to keep one fixated until the end. Too bad the latest actioner is coming off from a divisively split predecessor. The anticipation for yet another flick of this kind is significantly lower this time, what with other well-liked alternatives still making their rounds.
Cruise’s body of work is testament to his longevity in the business and never ceases to amaze with his versatility. Playing against type, Cage’s act of cowardice is at first alarming but through his newfound invincibility, he redeems his heroism in a nail-biting finale. The weight is ably shared with Blunt, a no-nonsense militant who also possessed the Mimic’s gift once is a perfect foil to Cruise’s bureaucrat. Her tough girl facade comes across fluidly but never abandoning the vulnerability within that hard exterior. For the identical deaths played out differently with each new action, kudos to Doug Liman for incorporating lots of humour to balance the woeful premise.
To realistically convey the struggling Cage ascend from zero to hero, Liman has structured his narrative partially like a video game. The use of quick cuts and resuming right after where Cage ‘died’ previously keep the mood light and do not bog down its repetitive nature. The script’s subtleties to character development also add complexity on the major’s countless roadblocks in ensuring the war is won over the Mimics. As the tagline goes, ‘Live. Die. Repeat’, this is unquestionably one worth revisiting and waking up to a time loop.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material