I really liked this movie. The action was horrifyingly fast and sudden but (unlike with some movies) this didn’t seem like a bad thing, it was just a reality of these sorts of wars. It wasn’t jarring or confusing or annoying, it was just … you didn’t know when death was going to just suddenly happen, and that was one of the driving points of the story. To me, anyway.
So – and this shouldn’t be a spoiler because it’s basically in the trailer and the movie’s alternate title – this movie is about a character who gets killed, only to find himself waking up back on the previous morning, ready to relive the whole thing Groundhog Day-style. And each time he dies, he goes back to this apparently arbitrary point in time and starts over. Everything else replays perfectly and identically (until he alters things), allowing him to learn how events unfold and learn about the people he interacts with, which ultimately gives him precognitive-looking insight and reflexes and allows him to save humanity (okay, that was a bit of a spoiler).
Although he really did start out as a douchebag, which I guess was a nice character arc. Not entirely sure whether the plan was always to get him onto the front lines and killed, or what the general was playing at here … but okay. It served to get him started.
Now, there are problems with this premise.
First of all, every breath of air Cage breathes and every movement he makes would spin off a different version of events. He couldn’t have even a slightly different conversation, stand in even a slightly different spot or do anything even a millisecond out of whack with the previous time, and have any clue about where the next bullet was going to fly, where the next punch was going to fall, who was going to say what for the rest of the day. He could not dance through a repeated day in perfectly-choreographed smarminess because the first few moments of his doing so would cause a new and entirely unpredictable sequence of responses to occur. They seem to lampshade this a bit in their attempted escape-from-the-beach choreography and how it turns out to be well-nigh impossible, but they don’t take it far enough. It would be impossible.
But whatever. We ignore this because otherwise the movie would be a lot less fun (although I argue that it could still be pulled off, just without the Groundhog Day gimmick). Not a complaint, therefore – just … I don’t know, a thing that I had to actively ignore.
That’s right, woodchuck chuckers, it’s Groundhog Day!
Also, what happens to all those other timelines where Vrataski shoots Cage in the head? Do they toddle on and hide the body and trust that things go right in another universe? Or does everything cease to exist the moment he dies, and then starts over on the clean slate? I’m going to go with the latter, but I rather like the former actually.
Check it out, Ripley … yeah, I didn’t stop making Aliens jokes, basically all the way through.
Bloody chunder, there was even an Australian in it.
But no. My biggest problem, and again not really a problem as such, was the sheer preposterousness of the mechanism. How an alien life-form like that would ever happen, with that sort of ludicrously specific natural ability, and not basically instantly and simultaneously occupy the entire material universe is beyond me. And passing the power on to a human by getting killed by said human, and the power lasting until the human’s blood is replaced … I … no, I just really had to put blinkers on and ignore the whole thing. It was magic. It was a really great effort at a sciencey-wiencey explanation but it was fucking magic. Just say “magic”.
Damn bugs set a trap for us, didn’t they … oh yeah, I also made Starship Troopers jokes. Funnily enough, both this and Starship Troopers were originally adapted out of books. But I haven’t read the original book All You Need Is Kill, so I can’t comment. Starship Troopers differed pretty wildly from the book. Having checked the Wikipedia page, I’m going to with “so did this one.”
Then with the alien biology and the weird time-skip disease came the transponder and the visions and the omega and the weird ending where time reset but the alien was still dead (the alphas resetting the day I can understand because the omega did it, but what reset time when the omega died?) … okay. It was great. But difficult to process.
 Actually my immediate comment while watching this movie was, “…and it turned out there were actually six omegas scattered around Earth, because nature loves redundancy.” And when Cage woke up to find it was a couple of days earlier, I thought cool, so maybe this means there were extra omegas and they’ll just be back at square one … but no, it was just a semi-nonsensical ploy to give them all a happy ending.
Cage got to do this scene, and survive. Which was nice.
In fact, it seems that this is what happened in the book – they had to kill all the alphas, then at least one of the looping humans, and then the omega. And the hero continued along the time-stream with his girlfriend dead.
But those things aside, this was a really fun movie. Some great scenes and some even greater character development and interaction. And like I said, the action scenes were brilliantly done. I even liked the look of the aliens.
Let me show you my “oh” face.
I admit, when I first saw them move in that weird stop-motion way, I thought that must be some element of the omega’s ability to time-shift. Was I alone in that? They seemed to be flicking in and out of ordinary space-time, rather than just moving really fast. But then we find out that the only thing the omega can do is reset the day on which an alpha dies, which gives it functionally infinite retakes on a single given day until it gets it right … but wouldn’t, as far as I can see, give the aliens that form of motion.
I’m just going to assume it could do other stuff as well, with some secondary time-altering ability, which was why the drones and alphas all moved in that creepy way. Unfortunately, this just adds another layer to the “how the Hell have these aliens evolved, and how the Hell do they not already fill the entire universe from end to end?” conundrum.
Still, a nice movie. Worth a watch.