Blumhouse Productions seem to getting quite a reputation for making high concept, well received horror what with the popular Purge franchise and the sleeper hit of Don’t Breathe. So we come to this recent offering that again has a clever concept at it’s heart, and follows a day in the life of University student ‘Tree’ who finds herself stalked by a masked killer and ultimately killed. No, this isn’t spoiler territory as that’s when Tree’s day starts repeating itself ala Groundhog Day, and so it quickly dawns on her that she has to find how who her killer is, to hopefully set things right again.
It’s not a new idea but given a teen-movie twist along with the central character having to solve her own murder is at least a novel spin. Yet despite strong potential in a creepy and played straight opening, once it descends into the day repeating, ill-fitting comedy comes into play and transforms this into a sillier movie than I’d have liked. This is not helped by a mostly unlikeable group of characters, who despite best attempts at quirky pop-culture spouting dialogue, come off as self-absorbed idiots, including our lead. Yep, she’s got some tragedy in her past, but does that mean she should be so utterly stuck up?
It attempts to save itself in some fun, if tame stalk and slash sequences and a couple of twists did keep me guessing … but when we have the final reveal, it’s pretty ‘meh’ again because of it’s wafer-thin characters. There’s some moral lessons to take away here, but overall this was nothing to rush out and see.
There’s something about Tom Cruise’s latest foray into blockbuster territory that feels like it’s late to the party. Mech-suits – didn’t Avatar or Elysium do this already? And don’t get me started on the Groundhog Day plot. But I digress. This has Cruise as a Major in the army who reports on the war against an alien race that has invaded earth. On a routine visit to report on the latest onslaught, he suddenly gets shoehorned into battle against his will. Only thing is once on the battlefield and seriously outnumbered by the enemy, Cruise (or Cage as his character is named) discovers that getting killed is only the start of the longest day of his life. Along the way he meets up with war hero Emily Blunt who may just know why he’s repeating his day over and over again.
Cruise is decent in not a particularly demanding role…he gets to shoot aliens a lot and look sort of awkward in his mechanised suit, but surrounded by a group of clichéd ‘grunts’ he stands out (despite an entertaining Bill Paxton). Better is Blunt, one of the more interesting and has to be said bad-ass of the current female acting crop and her presence means this movie had echoes of Looper what with it’s time-paradox storyline. It’s not as clever as that movie though and lacks any real depth to the characters or especially the aliens who just look like throwbacks to The Matrix’s sentinels. More interesting is the repeating day plot-device which director Doug Liman plays with wonderfully and at times the getting-it-wrong moments are quite funny (Cruise daringly rolls under a passing tuck … with a resulting splat).
I would have liked more of a love story-angle to Cruise & Blunt’s partnership (it’s certainly hinted at) and maybe some more detail on the aliens … and just why the day is repeating all the time left me saying … er, what was that again? However, the movie makes up for such shortcomings with several superb action sequences (the beach stuff is like a futuristic Saving Private Ryan) and on a decent set up, with a big screen and surround sound…this packed a punch. Just a shame it’s fairly basic characterisation and copy-cat ideas prevent it from being a classic.
Following up what was one of the most gripping and rewarding sci-fi movies in years in the shape of the award winning Moon, director Duncan Jones had a lot of expectation weighing heavy on his shoulders. Starring one of my favourite actors, Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Colter Stevens (great movie name there!) who finds himself on a train that’s about to fall victim to a terrorist bomb threat. Given only eight minutes to discover what happens before his conciousness is transported back to the military facility housing a top-secret project called The Source Code, Captian Stevens must continually, groundhog day-like revisit the train and identify the culprit to prevent any further devesation.
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