Having just been to see "X Men : Days of Future Past", I wasn't sure if I was ready for the second "Time-loop" action movie within a week. And I wondered if "Groundhog Day" hadn't said it all, done it all anyway. And could Tom Cruise manage yet another ageing juvenile action hero role?
So, with some little surprise, I have to report that I really enjoyed this film. Taken on its merits – deep and meaningful it ain't – we get a plot which for the most part sucks us right in, action which knocks us back in our seats, cinematographical trickery which actually deserves the term "awesome", and an attempt to give Cruise some acting to do.
His character, Major Tom Cage, is a fully paid-up coward as the movie begins – a PR man seconded to the army, as they fight a desperate war against annihilating aliens.
Suddenly faced with the prospect of actual combat ("I hate the sight of blood – even a paper-cut" he says) he tries to fast talk his way out, and wakes up handcuffed and demoted to a private, being monstered by Bill Paxton as the sergeant major from Hades.
Now comes the time-loop. Cage is killed in the midst of a beach landing, and finds himself handcuffed, and being monstered again, and dying again and being monstered again. Over and over. You get the picture?
Emily Blunt as the fearless Rita Vrataski becomes Cruise's trainer and co-conspirator, as together they return again and again to the beach, each time adding a piece to the jigsaw which helps them to plot the overthrow of the formidable aliens. It becomes clear that only Cruise can save civilisation – with a great deal of help from Emily Blunt, who is no shrinking violet heroine.
This film succeeds not only because of the superb special effects, but because Rita and Cage are rather more than the usual cardboard cut-out action heroes. Disconcertingly, Cruise is a very convincing coward, and Emily Blunt is totally believable as a super-fit killing machine. Angelina Jolie move over.
I suspect that we are not dealing here with a film that will last for decades, but it is thoroughly engaging, and very entertaining.