Live. Die. Repeat.

The trailers of Edge of Tomorrow give you an extremely accurate summation of the movie. They leave out details, and they leave out the ending, as they should - but they're more accurate than most trailers these days. There's no attempt to mislead, no work at hiding a twist, nothing like that.

When I first saw these trailers, I turned to a friend I was with (we were watching Godzilla 2014) and said "Ah, I see. Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers." I am pleased - for my own sense of smugness, if nothing else - to report that I was basically correct. Now, let me emphasize that this is not a bad thing. I liked Groundhog Day quite a bit - the concept and the execution. I liked Starship Troopers less, but not because the effects were terrible. I like movies about humans vs. alien combat, and movies with battlesuits, and...yeah, well. Those boxes are all firmly checked, here.

Okay, might as well offer a synopsis. I can do this by giving you a quick run-down of the first 5 or 8 minutes of the movie. Ready?

The Earth is invaded. Hit by what looks like a meteorite which lands in Germany, we are shown via television news clips that in fact the impact was that of some kind of alien force. Europe begins to fall. By the time the live action of the movie begins, we've been shown ominous maps displaying a cancer of red iconography spreading west towards the Atlantic, east into the steppes of Russia and south to the Mediterranean. Our protagonist Bill Cage (Tom Cruise), we're also informed via clip show, is a U.S. military Major (although it doesn't really tell us which branch). He's not combat; he's a public relations officer, and as the movie opens, he's arriving in London to meet with the commander of the United Defense Force. He has been instrumental in publicizing the advance of the Jacket - an open-frame combat exoskeleton that apparently led to the only victory in the war, at Verdun. It allowed minimally-trained soldiers to defeat the oncoming scourge, named 'Mimics' for reasons that aren't clear (and no, they're not shapeshifters). One in particular, a heroic Sergeant(?) (played by Emily Blunt) who has risen to fame for her part in the Verdun action, shows up on recruiting posters which (it is implied) our protagonist had a hand in designing.

When he gets to London, he is told that he will be accompanying the next day's invasion of Europe, along with his camera crew, to document the action. He is nonplussed, to say the least, and we learn that he's a coward. When he attempts to clumsily get out of these assigned orders, he is arrested. He wakes up at Forward Operating Base Heathrow, in handcuffs for desertion, assigned to a squad of what is clear are military rejects - in the expectation that he'll perish.

He does.

Then he wakes up.

He wakes up right where he did when he arrived at the base, and the day has started over again.

It swiftly becomes clear that he is doomed to relive this day, over and over. It ends when he dies, and resets to the same point (Groundhog Day, remember?)

When he meets the one other person who seems to understand what's happening to him, his life takes on a purpose.

So. That's basically the trailer and the plot synopsis. The movie fulfills its promise quite well - the story is what was telegraphed, there are obstacles to overcome, there are tons of explosions, lots of people die (sometimes again and again). Our hero is the only one who can Save The World. Of course, the enemy has other ideas.

This film is somewhat hampered by the fact that incredible special effects are no longer amazing - they're expected, in this age of digital magic. Had this movie come out five years ago, it would have been trumpeted as an amazing tour de force of CGI. Now? Nobody really bothers to mention the effects. They're not incredible, for current tech. They're just what they need to be, with nothing added and no extra attention paid to them - which is good.

It was written by Christopher McQuarrie - who also wrote The Usual Suspects and The Way of the Gun, so violence and time games are familiar ground for him. The director is Doug Liman, whose work includes The Bourne Identity, Jumper and Mr. & Mrs. Smith - so frenetically-paced movie-long chase scenes are his forte.

The storyline is minimal. The character development ditto. But that's okay, this isn't about that. It's about the stress and shock and despair of living over and over again, only to die - with faint hope of winning through and actually ending the pain. Remember, death doesn't help. Our protagonist's cowardice vanishes quickly - even his first death is somewhat less than pusillanimous, which is a bit odd given his introduction. But, as seems to be common for Tom Cruise movies, he morphs steadily towards the grim hard-bitten combat veteran and violence expert, gaining emotional armor and skills and an increasing disregard for human cost - the latter only partially explained by the fact that he'll see everyone he loses when he wakes up again earlier today.

The film is just under two hours long. I enjoyed all of it. The ending was very predictable - how they got there wasn't, but not because the details of how they got there really matter. Again, this movie has telegraphed its punch with its trailers, and the best we can say is that it manages to solidly deliver on their promise.

I saw it as a matinee, for reduced price. I didn't feel cheated. I probably would have been fine seeing it full price. It's one of those boomfests that benefits from a big screen and a really good sound system. The invasion of France scenes are highly reminiscent of those in Saving Private Ryan, only with vertibirds and combat exoskeletons and hordes of alien combatants that look like nothing so much as the squiddies from The Matrix but hiding in the sand.



...and you're back.

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