In 2015, aliens called Mimics arrive in an asteroid and conquer most of Continental Europe in short order. By 2020, the United Defense Forces finally achieve a victory over the Mimics at Verdun with newly designed mech suits. In Britain, the UDF is planning an invasion of France and General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders a public relations officer named William Cage (Tom Cruise) to cover the event. Cage, with no combat experience, protests, and the General arrests him and sends him to Heathrow Military Base. He wakes to find himself a Private in the misfit J-Squad, headed by Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton).
The landing in France is a failure. Farell and J-Squad are killed. Cage uses a claymore mine to blow up a large blue Mimic and is covered in its blood. He awakens on the previous day, but no-one believes him, and he relives his first day over and over again, dying each time. During one loop, he saves Sargent Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a famous hero. She realizes he is looping and tells him to find her next time. He does so and she takes him to Doctor Carter (Noah Taylor), an expert in Mimic biology. He explains that Mimics are a superorganism in which the Omega controls the cerebrum, while the Alphas are like the ganglia controlling the ordinary Mimics. When the Alphas die, the Omega resets them until the battle is won. Cage’s contact with the blood gave him the power to reset his life. Vrataski had this ability but lost it through a blood transfusion. If Cage can kill the Omega, the invasion will end.
Over many more loops, Vrataski trains Cage to excel in combat. He sees things: the Mimics will attack London and he sees a dam in Germany. Cage and Vrataski infiltrate the Ministry of Defense, where Cage convinces General Brigham to give him a prototype device that can locate the Omega. Fleeing from Military Police, Cage uses the device and discovers that the Omega is under the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. He is injured and awakes to find he has been given a transfusion and lost his powers.
Vrataski frees Cage and they recruit J-Squad to help destroy the Omega. Cage and Vrataski reach the Louvre. Vrataski kisses him and is killed. Cage is wounded but drops a belt of Grenades on the Omega. Cage is covered in Omega blood and awakes two days earlier in an alternate history where the Mimics are weaker without the Omegas, the human armies are victorious, the J-Squad are alive and Vratsaski does not recognize him.
The film was directed by Doug Liman, based on a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka called All You Need is Kill. It was produced by Warner Brothers to positive reviews. It was nominated for four Critics Choice Movie awards and Emily Blunt was a winner. It was nominated for seven Saturn Awards and won for Best Editing. The music was by Christopher Beck, his first film-score. Emily Blunt was praised as a tough female training the hero, but some wondered why she kissed Tom Cruise, except that this is what stars are supposed to do. The constant re-do of the dead hero was compared to the reboot of action video games.
The battle suits weighed 85 pounds or more. In between shots, the actors would hang from chains. The tentacled aliens were supposed to be made of obsidian-like material. Cage’s deaths were supposed to be amusing and Cruise compared himself to Wile E. Coyote. Of course, he did all this own stunts. Apparently, Rita watched him die 300 times. The space drop scene and the battle suits came straight out of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. In fact, the movie was described as a cross between Starship Troopers and Groundhog Day. The movie was a whirlwind of action and the pattern of deaths and rebirths was fascinating.