Directed by Doug Liman
Written By, Alex Kurtzman, Christopher McQuarrie, D.W. Harper, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, etc.

Starring: Bill Paxton, Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise, Brendan Gleeson

Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) who has never seen a day of combat, is drafted into a suicide mission and bumped down to a private. Killed within minutes, Cage finds himself in a time loop that has him living the same brutal combat over and over, repeatedly fighting, dying and waking up to begin again. But with each battle, Cage gets smarter in how to outthink his alien adversaries with increasing combat skill and intelligence. Special Forces warrior, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), having undergone a similar loop is soon his partner in battle. And, as Cage and Rita work together to outsmart their adversaries, each repetition gets them closer to outfoxing the enemy.

This is the plot, but what makes it work so well is a number of things. First, although I am not a Cruise fan, he is perfect in this role, dialing down his usual cocky hero, underplaying the heroics wherever possible. His character knows his limitations and admits them. Two: the movie brilliantly spells out what’s going on without repeating the same sequences too often. You see just enough to understand what’s happening to Cage, but not enough to make you groan. You can’t help but admire how well the movie executes the time warp theme. Three: the movie doesn’t bother offering you a love story or even a personal one. This is not what the movie’s about and better to omit it entirely than to under develop it. Four: it doesn’t bother telling you much about how this situation/war came about and you don’t care. The aliens are not particularly interesting beyond a few crucial abilities.

This is a movie about problem-solving, about being smarter than your adversary, and it works well on that front. Highly recommended.

Patti Abbott