Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Live. Die. Repeat.
Yeah, sure, the newest Call of Duty has exo-suits and laser guns - but Edge of tomorrow teased delicious mechanically enhanced soldiers before I remember them doing it - and I'd be willing to put my money down on EoT not being as derivative as well. Been a while since Tom Cruise was out there in a sci fi flick eh? Not really, but I kind of feel that's generally what he does well anyways, so that's not holding me back either. Will you end up repeating your viewing experience, or will you just live on like nothing happened?
I'm not going to spoiler block the entire text for the plot - which if you've been perusing these things for a while you'd kinda know to expect it to some extent - so be warned that outside of paragraph one, you may want to just skip to the after-image text blocks to avoid any loss of surprise. General Cage is quite the war correspondent type - sure he's a Major and loves to hype up how awesome the soldiers are, but he's not one for fighting himself. This comes to be quite the problem when he meets up with a higher-up in the UDF, who tells him he's going to the front lines on the anti-alien version of Normandy Beach. His best efforts at avoiding this only results in a taser to the face and a new branding as a deserter - which lands him in company favorite J Squad (the misfits of the military forces). After receiving no real instructions on how to operate his suit or anything of the sort, it's no surprise that when the landing goes terribly wrong - as though the aliens knew they were coming - he's running around like a chicken without it's head. Watching the hero of previous battles go down, as well as all his squad, the last effort he manages before he too meets his fate is using a claymore to explode a larger alien that seems different than the others.
And he wakes up right back where he started after his arrival at the forward operating base. He tries to rationalize the events, even changing some things, but even so he ends up dying again. He tries to explain things to his drill officer and his squad, or anyone who will listen - but nobody will listen, and in fact they even duct tape his mouth shut so they needn't listen to him since it's creeping him out. Again, no luck. Eventually, he ends up "practicing" enough to save the hero-figure Rita, at which point she tells him to find her and talk to her next time - and then they explode. After a new try and talking with Rita, we find out that the same thing happened to Rita before at the battle that made her a hero - and her and her scientific friend who got demoted to engineer for weapons after being branded as "crazy" theorize it's got something to do with the bigger alien he killed and their blood mixing when it died. They believe that the normal aliens are just like appendages of a main alien, and the large ones are like a nervous system that when it's killed, the main one somehow resets the day - effectively allowing the aliens to anticipate everything their enemies would do.
After a while of training and dying, training and dying, and repeating some more Cage starts having visions - visions the scientist believes will lead them to the main alien controlling time, and if they can kill that they can stop this entire cycle. Then begins the cycle of continually trying to get himself and Rita further and further along to this location to kill the main bug. When Cage finally does make it there though, it isn't there and given the actions of the aliens trying to bleed him dry instead of outright killing him, Rita and gang believe they are starting to suspect something's up with him - as Rita lost her power from a blood transfusion received from wounds (which explains why she doesn't remember everything, although Cage does). As things start looking bleaker and bleaker, will humanity have a chance to find this time-controlling alien and save their race?
Effects here are great. If it's a summer blockbuster-type movie you wanted, then that's what you are getting. Action can be quick moving, but it's never as confusing or easy to lose track of whats going on as some more CG heavy movies can be. The aliens are a wiggling mass of ...stuff... and very much look kind of like an ever-shifting organic version of the squid-robots from Matrix, if they were more alien and less robot. The larger ones actually appear much more beast with how they hold themselves up, and yet remain with the shifting idea from the others - but I admit it's kind of hard to elaborate on "shifting" without seeing them move in the film. Explosions are abundant where necessary, and human tech is a nice blend of old-tech with some futuristic touches as far as the military side of things - namely those exoskeleton suits that we all saw in the trailers.
Actors do a good job here, and Cruise does an impressive job in his role as the Groundhog Day'd protagonist. The added effect of seeing the toll reliving the losing battle starts to have on him is a wonderful little segment of character development, and Rita keeps the movie from banking on cruise-control by providing a kick-butt female secondary lead who both understands the situation, but can provide grief through little details (one such demonstrated in a planning scene to try and make it past the beach). J Squad also comes off as all having their own personalities, although they never get so much screen time as to say they develop any more than just supporting characters.
Although most of us would admit we were drawn in by the action that the movie pulls off so well, it's of note that the story itself is actually decently thought out and executed. The only question that isn't answered across the mix of showtime is how exactly the aliens can control time in the first place - something that doesn't hurt the experience as all, as how would any of us know how it does that? There are some slow moments in there, and some moments are obviously for humor (and sometimes even actually funny), and for the most part how it's all cut together really does help you forget (or not know) just what "life" he's actually on at any given point of time. That being said, I'm fairly certain that somebody out there is going to get confused by all the time-resetting going on and some of the training montage-repetitiveness can get a little bit old (but thankfully doesn't overdo itself that much).
If you're still here, congratulations. My final opinion is that fans of action or sci fi movies should probably go and buy this one. It may not have that family-tier load of laughs appeal that something like Guardians of the Galaxy might have, but I couldn't help but think that this is what Starship Troopers could have been if they injected time travel and modern technology instead of what we originally got. The worst part about this movie is by far the horrible renaming nonsense that's going on - although most of us think of it as combat Groundhog's Day, I hear tell it was originally based on japanese novel/manga All You Need is Kill - which since I haven't read it I can't comment on it - and the larger Live.Die.Repeat appearance on the cover of the boxart is going to confuse people looking for Edge of Tomorrow. Either way, I feel you should check this one out.