Edge Of Tomorrow
It is not a problem if a film is derivative, given that most creative projects owe their inspiration to other people's ideas. But this new Tom Cruise vehicle borrows so heavily from Groundhog Day, Source Code, Saving Private Ryan and Starship Troopers that it is in danger of sinking under the weight of its antecedents. Oh yes, and it is more like a video game than a real film.
It's the future. Planet Earth has been invaded by an alien species that resemble confused slinkies (you, the toys that go downstairs). Tom Cruise arrives in London as a useless PR man whose main aim is self-promotion. Due to his annoying personality, he is thrown into combat as an untrained grunt, and killed within ten minutes. Right that's it, then; we can all go home. No, wait a minute, he wakes up again. It was all a dream. Hang on, no it wasn't a dream. It's the same day all over again (you know, like Bill Murray), and he's being dropped on the beach again, and getting slaughtered again.
And so it goes on. Wake up, into battle, dead, back to square one. Except that he's gradually getting the hang of things, learning what's going to happen when and where, and even managing to save his colleagues, notably a warrior called Rita (Emily Blunt) who tells him to come and see her when he wakes up next time. And then we're off into the next part of the story, when he explains what he knows, she explains what she knows, and then they go round and round a few more times, each time inching closer to their objective. I've never played computer games, but I gather that this is the template for shoot-em-ups.
I assume that Cruise's role was originally intended for a younger actor (Tom is 50, after all, while Blunt is a mere 30), so it makes little sense for her to be acting as his mentor, and the budding (though never flowering) romance is equally creepy. But given that Cruise's career has been built around playing ageless boys pretending to be men, I suppose he could go on like for another 10 years.
It's not a bad film (talk about damning with faint praise), but it's hard to retain any serious level of emotional engagement with something quite so clunky and superficial. The reason that Groundhog Day works so well is that not only is it funny, and has some serious points to make, but we do actually care about Murray's character and his relationship with Andie McDowell. It's impossible to care about Cruise, Blunt or what happens to them, let alone Planet Earth. And the aliens have absolutely nothing to distinguish them from any other sci fi CGI-created monsters, except being a lot less interesting.
The only point of this roundabout of accumulated knowledge and experience that I can see is that Cruise becomes more and more of a know-it-all, and manages to save the world by the end (trust me, this is not a plot spoiler). There is already a film called Deja Vu (which this also resembles), so maybe this should have been called Deja Vu Again.
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