A look at a collection of time-loop tales
Last week, I reviewed the new sci-fi feature “Boss Level.” Starring Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson, the entertaining Hulu thriller is a time-loop tale — that is, one in which the protagonist keeps experiencing the same time period over and over.
There are dozens of these — including, for instance, the horror flick “Happy Death Day” and the lesser-known teen drama “Before I Fall.”
If you missed “Boss Level” or need more of the same, here are five others:
(1993; rated PG)
One of the earliest examples — and perhaps the most famous — this dramedy stars Bill Murray as a cynical newsman who is assigned to cover the titular event in Punxsutawney, then finds himself living through Feb. 2 countless times.
With its thoughtful plot — in which Murray’s Phil Connors grows into a better person — “Day” laid the ground-rules for this genre, while also establishing the beloved actor as a candidate for more serious roles.
Co-starring Andie MacDowell and Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill’s bro).
RUN, LOLA, RUN
(1998; rated a very mild R)
Cult-fave German film puts its intrepid title character through the same fast-moving odyssey three times as she attempts to help her boyfriend — who fears execution by his crime-boss after accidentally losing a huge cash-stash.
Each time she reaches him, the story rewinds so Lola can try again — and man does this movie earn its title during those three attempts. Filming must have simply worn out its fleet-footed lead — flame-haired Franka Potente, who went on to greater fame in the first two Bourne movies.
This is high-octane, can’t-look-away moviemaking at its best.
(2011; rated PG-13)
This propulsive sci-fi thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a man involved in a deliberate train wreck who later learns that he was placed there to find the bomb and prevent another attack. When he fails to stop it the first time, he’s sent back again — and again and again; and each time, he has only eight minutes. Director Duncan Jones — who is David Bowie’s son, and who burst onto the cinematic scene with 2009’s dazzling “Moon” — gets top-tier work not only from his leads, but also from Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright in smaller roles.
(2020; rated R)
Nominated for a Golden Globe, this little sleeper concerns Nyles and Sarah, a mismatched couple stuck in a time-loop on the day of a friend’s wedding. Initially awkward, they gradually fall in love, while also seeking to break the loop — and fend off a furious mystery-man (J. K. Simmons) who wants revenge on Nyles.
There’s some action, some romance, some comedy, some pretty frank sexuality — and a bit of metaphysical reflection as the pair explore life’s meaning in the shadow of repetition and imminent death.
Starring Andy Samberg (who was also GG-nominated) and an absolutely wonderful Cristin Milioti.
EDGE OF TOMORROW
(2014; rated PG-13)
Best and most successful of these titles, this slam-bang sci-fi entry stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as soldiers badly out-matched while fighting aliens who’ve invaded Europe. Cruise’s Maj. Cage is quickly killed, but then suddenly reawakens at the beginning of his deployment and has to live out his fight-to-the-death all over again; and then about 100 more times after that.
Unlike other time-loop tales, “Edge” provides a reason why the day keeps repeating. Better yet, the script keeps shortening each recurrence, so the movie moves at a breakneck pace.
Director Doug Liman also helmed “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “The Bourne Identity” and 2021’s “Chaos Walking.” He and Cruise and Blunt are confirmed for a sequel.
I guess if you’ve already seen any titles on this list, you could always go back and watch them over again … right?