For some people, having to relive the worst day of their life, over and over and over again would seem like a private hell. And Major Bill Cage finds out the hard way that he doesn’t much like it either.
Cage, played by Tom Cruise, is an advertising exec who finds himself in uniform after an alien invasion and a years long conflict with the invaders puts him out of business. He’s still in sales, as the smiling face of the United States Army, selling enrollment in the United Defense Force, which is trying to reclaim continental Europe from the aliens (call “mimics”). His job is made a little easier by the UDF’s recent victory over the mimics at Verdun, when he is seconded to the leading general at the UDF headquarters in London, who informs an incredulous Cage that the UDF was about to mount a D-Day like offensive, and that Cage would be hitting the beach with the troops to tell the story.
Cage is a coward, and is not afraid to say so, and attempts to refuse the assignment, unsubtlely implying that he would have no trouble convincing the public after the coming bloodbath that the General should be to blame. The General, not one to be cowed by a smart-alec yank, has Cage arrested, and tased. Cage wakes up the next day at the UDF staging area at Heathrow, stripped of rank, and in the care of a master sergeant who has been told that Cage is a deserter.
Cage is reluctantly taken in by J squad, who take an immediate dislike to Cage, and refuse to give him even the basic knowledge of how to operate the battle exo-suit that he will wear in the invasion of the mainland on the next morning. The invasion is a disaster, and Cage is predictably killed, but in so doing, takes a larger mimic (an Alpha) with him…and he wakes up the previous morning, again in handcuffs, being yelled at by a sergeant before the master sergeant steps in and starts working on his reluctant charge all over again.
Each time he dies, he gets a little farther, before coming face to face with the hero of the Battle of Verdun, played by Emily Blunt, who seems to understand the unique predicament that he is describing to her. Working with her, he repeats the two days over and over, until he learns enough to actually be a stone killer, the same as her, and the two embark on a plan to bring an end to the war.
I’ll admit to not being Cruise’s biggest fan, but I enjoyed this movie. I became completely engrossed in Cage’s predicament, and the way that Blunt’s Sergeant Vrataski brutally trains him to become the selfless (and suicidal) killing machine that they will both have to be to win the ultimate victory, and how they make the ultimate sacrifice to save all of humanity…or do they?