Reliving the Same Day, but Striving for Different Results

“Edge of Tomorrow” reviewed

BY VINCENT ABBATECOLA

UntitledTom Cruise has built a regal reputation in the realm of blockbusters. He’s a part of the ongoing “Mission: Impossible” series, a couple of Steven Spielberg’s adventures with “War of the Worlds” and “Minority Report,” and some successful comedies, such as “Tropic Thunder” and “Jerry Maguire.”

He’s as active as ever, which is exemplified in director Doug Liman’s sci-fi thriller, “Edge of Tomorrow.” With a smart script, neat visuals and a reliably game Cruise, this is one of the most fun films of the summer.

For five years, the world has been at war with a race of aliens known as Mimics. As they continue to wreak havoc on Europe, an organization known as the United Defense Forces arms soldiers with mechanized exoskeletons called Jackets, which prove to be powerful weapons against the invaders. When Major William Cage (Cruise), a UDF spokesman and officer in the US military, is brought to London to meet with General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), he’s ordered to be dropped into battle to capture footage of the soldiers’ invasion during Operation Downfall, despite not being an actual soldier. When he tries to blackmail Brigham to excuse him from this task, he’s arrested, stripped of his rank and sent to a military base that’s preparing to launch an attack on the coast of France.

When Cage dies minutes into the invasion, he suddenly and inexplicably wakes up on the day he arrived at the base. Teaming up with Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage must figure out why he keeps waking up on this day whenever he dies, and realizes that the mystery behind this could lead to the answer for how to defeat the Mimics.

After staring in many big movies over the past couple of decades, Tom Cruise’s films still provide considerable entertainment value because of his comfortableness in front of the camera and willingness to throw himself into all kinds of onscreen adventures. He continues to be a talented action star who clearly has as much energy as he showed in his earlier films, and it looks like he has plenty for more.

Emily Blunt has acted in several dramatic and comedic vehicles, but in this film, she displays another side of her acting talents as a venerable action-movie heroine with a resilient fighting spirit. She’s more than able to hold her own when sharing the screen with an enduring movie-star like Cruise, and should consider getting involved with more action films.

The screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, which is based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s young-adult novel, “All You Need Is Kill,” while also taking some inspiration from the film “Groundhog Day,” has a story that adds to the always-intriguing premise of how time is presented in film. This movie could have easily reduced itself to another “Battle: Los Angeles,” with the film just being one empty, video-game action sequence after another that don’t add up to much of a story, but that isn’t the case with this film.

Although the story can get repetitive at times as Cruise’s character continues to relive the same day, the action keeps getting more and more interesting throughout the film once Will and Rita finally get passed the battle on the coast and move more inland. The screenwriters also add a few humorous bits that, despite the serious situations that the characters face, never feel out of place because of how much fun the movie is.

Part of the reason why the film goes above what it could have been is because of the bond between Cruise and Blunt. Just like what Liman did with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and Matt Damon and Franka Potente in “The Bourne Identity,” he makes sure that his male and female leads offer a believable connection for when the story needs them to take part in some deeper moments of interaction in between the action sequences. This is particularly shown once Will and Rita begin to build a stronger relationship once they get passed the coastal carnage.

The summer movie season tends to be a time for sequels, prequels and reboots to popular movie franchises. So, given the enjoyable time to be had with “Edge of Tomorrow,” it’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t fall into any of those categories. This is something that should be happening in cinema again and again.

Final grade: B+