Director: Doug Liman (2014)
This blistering sci-fi spectacular sees Tom Cruise destined to fight the same battle over and over again.
Exciting and intriguing, it flares up with a charismatic cast, ferocious action, dynamite design and maze-like plot.
An alien species called Mimics have conquered mainland Europe and are ready to strike at London. They’re whirling dervishes of tentacles and teeth.
On the eve of a major retaliatory attack, Major William Cage (Cruise) is accused of deserting, dumped on the frontline and then caught in an alien ambush.
The brilliantly staged battle is filmed in a palette of blues and greys which channel the authenticity of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) – any other colour generally means something or someone’s on fire. (Cinematography Dion Beebe).
Aided by the rhythm of the editing (James Herbert, Laura Jennings), humour pierces the action like shrapnel.
Cage is killed in action but is shocked when he awakes fully intact back on the parade ground, the day before the attack.
Stuck in a time-loop he has to continually fight and die, learning each day how to survive a little bit longer.
Unlike the similarly structured classic Groundhog Day (1993), there’s no moral solution to the problem.
When Cage meets the famously tough and beautifully buff sergeant Vrataski (an excelllent Emily Blunt), he discovers she has had a similar experience.
Vrataski has learnt the aliens are responsible for the time-loop and that by destroying their hive mind, humans can win the war.
The lack of romantic chemistry between Cruise and Blunt works in the films favour as they form an effective team.
Bill Paxton is hugely entertaining as the swaggering Sergeant Farrell. He relishes every on-screen moment and turns them to his scenery chewing, comic advantage.
Cruise brings his usual intensity but makes Cage likeable by gamely being the punchline of many jokes.
Which is just one of many great reasons to watch this movie again. And again.