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Edge of Tomorrow

Year: 2014
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie/Jez Butterworth/John-Henry Butterworth/Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt,Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Kick Gurry, Noah Taylor

This movie dropped in what turned out to be one of the worst blockbuster seasons in a long time, and it was unfairly lost in the quagmire of sequels, remakes and the usual midyear crap. A cool, visually inventive, funny movie with a strong idea, it deserved much better. You can just imagine the pitch meeting; 'it's Independence Day meets Groundhog Day by way of Saving Private Ryan !'

The first point of difference is that we're so unused to seeing Tom Cruise as anything other than the do-anything action man. Here he's Bill Cage, an ex advertising executive and now an army public relations officer in a world that's descended into war with an alien race. When he travels to the UK on routine duties, a gruff senior commander (Gleeson) informs him he's being removed from his post and shoved into a frontline combat unit – something Cage is so unprepared for and terrified of he literally tries to run away through the Whitehall high command offices.

He awakens in handcuffs on an army base the day before a big incursion into enemy territory, rough-housed and mistreated by a drill sergeant (Paxton) and his new crew. On the morning of the invasion, the still-protesting Cage is thrown in an airborne troop transporter without even having been told how to take his weapon off safety, and dropped into the battle.

After a terrifying few minutes he blows up one of the crazy octopus-like aliens (think the squiddies from The Matrix, only faster and on land) and is showered in its blood.

Instead of dying he wakes up again, the day before the invasion, in handcuffs on the same base with the same nasty sergeant coming to collect him, but with complete knowledge that he's lived it all before.

It's something to do with a compound in the aliens' blood that sends him back in time to the same point every time he dies, and just like weatherman Phil Connors, Cage has to live the same thing over and over again – meeting his squad, landing in the battle, etc – until he cracks the code.

It's all got to do with war heroine Rita (Blunt), who tells him just before they're both encased in flames that it's happened to her too. So Cage spends every 'reset' trying to make headway in a plan to escape the invasion force, find Rita and figure out what's going on – sent back to the drawing board every time he gets run over, shot, blown up or any number of other grisly fates.

Both the script and Cruise take plenty of pleasantly surprising opportunities for laughs, not something you generally find in either war or sci-fi movies. And it's undeniably a war movie, not just because of the tonal riffs on World War II Britain but the giant beach invasion scene reminiscent of D-Day, rendered futuristic-looking thanks to the cool weaponry and exoskeleton battle suits.

It's not perfect and it's certainly not a mind-bender on the Memento scale, but it's a perfectly enjoyable popcorn-flavoured romp.

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