Cons: Got to the Theater 8 minutes late, anticipating the usual 17 minutes of previews. Miraculously, the movie had already started. OK, I can’t blame the film for that, but I’m grasping for straws because the movie itself was very good.
Tom Cruise is caught in a time loop similar to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, except some chick is shooting him in the head in most of the iterations.
Also, he is waking to each reset day with a sergeant screaming “On your feet maggot!” rather than hearing “I Got You Babe” on the radio. Although around the 20th time, I’m not sure which would be worse.
It gets off to an interesting start — at least at the point where I where I strolled in — as Tom Cruise is not playing his usual confident, infallible, smirking superman. Here he is Don Draper, or more accurately Pete Campbell, a weaselly military ad man who finds himself on the front lines of a war with aliens. He does his best to talk, spin, and blackmail his way out of being sent into the real war, but to no avail
He is busted to private and assigned to a combat unit commanded by Bill Paxton, who is great in this role despite being possibly the worst actor to ever make a fine living working full-time in movies; he is frequently a great character, but that is not the same. The irony is that among the grunts he commands there is not a single character as interesting as Hudson in Aliens. OK, I guess the indistinguishable soldiers are the real “con” of the movie.
Once in combat, he is pretty quickly killed. But not before killing one of the aliens. Not just a regular alien, but a 1 in 6 million alien that possesses time-travel capabilities. You’d think the aliens would protect such a rare, valuable resource, but no. After blasting the alien, Cruise gets a blood, guts & goo facial. This is enough to transfer the time-travel abilities to him. When he is killed, he resets / awakens the previous morning.
Eventually, Cruise becomes the superhuman killing machine that we expect him to be. The difference here is that it is earned. We see him repeatedly fail, die, and learn from his mistakes. For him, Nietzsche was wrong — What DOES kill him makes him stronger. There are no participation trophies. Cruise gets a rare chance to develop a character — from smug ad man, to scared toy-soldier, to born-again hard — and completely pulls it off.
Emily Blunt plays a war hero aka The Angel of Verdun aka Full Metal Bitch who had earlier been stuck in a time-loop. Understanding Cruise’s potential as a weapon, she becomes his trainer and partner. If there was one thing I didn’t care for in the movie, it was her. The character is OK, but the actress just brought nothing special to the role. OK, forget the indistinguishable soldiers, they were just bit players and ultimately cannon-fodder — the miscasting of Emily Blunt would be the only “con” I could come up with.
Toward the end, there were several things I didn’t understand. For example:
- Cruise seemed to indicate he was teaching himself to fly the helicopter at the farmhouse, but then told Blunt that an alien would hear the noise and attack it if were even started (which she proved to be true).
- Before attacking the Louvre, Cruise says not to kill any of the Alpha aliens because that would alert the Omega alien who would would then reset the day. But they do go in guns a-blazing, killing scores of aliens.
- And, of course, the whole ending.
Mostly likely all of these are explainable by a) dialogue I missed, or b) the fact that the theater now serves beer.
Except the ending.
So, maybe the real “con” is the ending; in more ways than one. Certainly that seems to be creating a lot of online chatter. But then most chatterers are praising Emily Blunt, too. I can construct a scenario in which it makes sense to me, even if it is not airtight. This ain’t Algebra; both sides of the equation don’t have to balance to be entertaining.
Rating: I’d rather sit through a time-loop viewing this movie than have to sit through Godzilla one more time.
- Great movie, but terrible title — sounds like a soap opera.
- Why the European setting? Callback to D-Day? Tired of destroying Washington and New York? Got news for you, people love seeing Washington destroyed. Maybe it is not PC during this administration.
- I can’t figure out what the giant paddle is that she is carrying.
- The shadow of Aliens looms large, and not just for Paxton and the cargo-loaders. When told they could not shoot the aliens at the Louvre, I really wanted to hear, “What the hell are we supposed to use, man? Harsh language?“
- As usual, I regret going 3D. It was fine, but pointless, in the static shots; but many of the action scenes were a mess. Also, it darkens the screen so much that I never was able to make out the last word of Full Metal Bitch on the poster, and didn’t recognize Emily Blunt as being the woman pictured. Possibly due to sitting at a sharp angle to the screen.
- Seventeen minutes does seem to be the average for previews. However, the new X-Men ran longer, and the Evil Dead reboot last year had a record-breaking 25 minutes. I wouldn’t care if they lasted an hour — if we knew they would last an hour. Here’s a way to start — no advertising for movies that won’t be in the theater for 2 years.
- There really is a Science Hill, KY but I can’t figure out why they would have made it Paxton’s character’s hometown. Bill Paxton was born in Fort Worth, TX. He was photographed waving to JFK leaving his hotel the morning he was killed, and later attended Lee Harvey Oswald’s old high school. John Denver also attended the same high school, but there is no photographic evidence linking Paxton to his death.