If time travel or the Groundhog Day type existent that is the centerpiece of this film were possible then why wouldn’t I use this power to take me back to a time when I was much, much younger and Tom Cruise still made movies worth going to. Harsh, yes, but unfortunately true. Most films he has made in the last decade fall into the as soon as I leave the theatre I (thankfully) cannot remember anything about it category. That is too bad for several reasons. One, because the guy makes a lot of films. Two, because a lot of talented people seem to want to make films with him and even their skills can’t seem to rescue these messes. And three, because he does make a lot of the type of film which should be harmless, fun watches. They all just seem to even miss that mark.
This time we get a post apocalyptic world in which aliens have come and are beginning to take over. Europe is under serious attack. The entire planet seems to be inevitable unless someone can do something great. American public relations officer Major William Cage (Tom Cruise – Eyes Wide Shut, Oblivion) is the man who goes in front of the cameras to do interviews that will pump up the population and make them want to join in the fight. Somehow he ends up in London in General Brigham’s (Brendan Gleeson – Troy, Gangs of New York) office with the army’s lead man telling him he is going to the front to lead an army in battle. Cage is in shock as he is in no way suited for fighting. As soon as he recovers he tries to talk himself out of it. When that does not work he tries to blackmail himself out of it. That does not work either and next thing he knows he is being woken up by a military man screaming at him to get up.
Cage has been stripped of his rank and demoted to Private then sent with the warning that he is an attempted deserter to serve in a division under Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton – Titanic, Twister). Once again his protests that he is not a trained fighter are ignored and the next thing he knows he is a member of J-Squad and on an aircraft in a metal fighting suit with two minutes left until he jumps out into a battle.
Even though he is as green as they come Cage can recognize the fact that once he has dropped in that what he is a part of is a suicide mission. Fellow fighters are being slaughtered and he doesn’t even know how to use the weaponry on his combat suit. Cage spies war hero Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt – The Five-Year Engagement, Young Victoria), the Angel of Verdun, on the beach and she is slaughtered before his very eyes. Realizing his fate Cage grabs a Claymore mine before an Alpha Mimic pounces on him for the kill. The explosion kills the Alpha and as it and Cage die together its bluish blood leaks all over the human.
What seems like seconds afterwards Cage is woken up by the same army man at the large army base telling him to get up and get moving. Then Master Sergeant Farell appears again saying the exact same things to Cage he did previously. Soon Cage realizes he is living the same day over and over. With each loop he becomes a little more adept at killing the Mimics because he knows what they are going to do before they do it. Soon he is even able to save J-Squad members and Vrataski. When he finally tells her what has been happening to him she says “Find me when you wake up”. He does and she explains to him that she had the same ability at one point, but then lost it. She tells him the only way they can win is to destroy the Omega Mimic. Vrataski and her mad scientist friend, Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor – Almost Famous, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) have come up with a way to do this. Survival of all mankind is now up to the untrained soldier William Cage.
Why some may argue that this role is a departure for Mr. Cruise I beg to differ. Okay, he starts off as a wimp and ignorant about fighting, but by midway point of the film he is a facsimile of the last ten characters he has played. For God’s sake, he even has one throwaway scenes in which he drives the same motorcycle he has in the last handful of movies he’s made. I wondered out loud (sorry to my fellow moviegoers) if he has that written into his contract. Other things that give you the feeling that you have seen it all before are the action scenes. Nothing new, nothing innovative in the least.
Emily Blunt is really the only reason to see this film. As she always does she turns in a solid performance. At times I found myself wishing her much more fleshed out and interesting character was the central one of the film. But alas with Mr. Cruise and the salary he commands it is not to be.
On a closing note I want to know what the deal is lately with post apocalyptic films? Why does is seem like every second film or television series has this as part of its story. Are we as a human race so certain that some huge disaster is going to happen that is eventually going to make us go the way of the dinosaur that the worry has now infiltrated the visual arts that completely? Divergent. The Hunger Games. Total Recall. The Road. The Walking Dead. Zombieland. Oblivion…hey, wait a minute Tom Cruise was in that film. Is he the key? I suggest we not let him make another movie until we are sure that he is not what is going to launch this global tragedy. Just a suggestion.