Movie review: Edge of Tomorrow is perfect sci-fi thriller for summertime moviegoer

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  • Updated: Jun 06, 2014 14:54 IST
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    Sci-fi thriller Edge Of Tomorrow is about humans battling against aliens in the near future. The movie unfolds in Europe. The film releases in India ...

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    The movie stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Both sport a rugged look in the film. (Photo courtesy: Facebook/EdgeOfTomorrowMovie)

  • tom cruise

    Tom Cruise plays an officer who continually relives a day of combat against extraterrestrials. He's thrown into battle against his will by an unsympathetic general, ...

  • alien

    Edge of Tomorrow, a Warner Bros. release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, ...

  • tom emily

    Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise will be seen together for the first time. The film is directed by Doug Liman who gave us The Bourne ...

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    British actor Emily Blunt plays Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski. She was last seen in Arthur Newman with Colin Firth in 2013. (Photo courtesy: Facebook/EdgeOfTomorrowMovie)

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    The movie is based on the 2004 Japanese novella All You Need Is Kill, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. (Photo courtesy: Facebook/EdgeOfTomorrowMovie)

The time-shifting sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow has perfectly encapsulated what it is to be a summertime moviegoer. We're dropped into a battlefield of digital effects with the fate of the world at stake. Torrents of gunfire and explosions surround. Some alien clonks us over the head.

We black out and it all happens again. And again.

Edge of Tomorrow, in which Tom Cruise plays an officer who continually relives a day of combat against extraterrestrials, probably isn't a commentary on the repetitiveness of today's blockbusters. Its star, after all, has been the unchanging, unstoppable avatar of big summer movies.

But in the film directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity), the action-star persona of Cruise is put into a phantasmagorical blender. As military marketer Maj. William Cage, he's thrown into battle against his will by an unsympathetic general (the excellent Brendan Gleeson), and then finds himself stuck in a mysterious time loop.

Cruise dies dozens of times over and over, often in comical ways. Does this sound like a great movie, or what?

Read: First poster: Tom Cruise in sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow

The selling point of Edge of Tomorrow may indeed be seeing one of Hollywood's most divisive icons reduced to Wile E. Coyote. He's like a real-life version of the video game Contra, with the code of seemingly endless life. Dying again and again, Cruise has rarely been so likable.

Based on the 2004 Japanese novella All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow begins in the de rigueur fashion of news clips that catch us up on five years of alien invasion that has - with historical symmetry - encompassed Europe and left the beaches of northern France as the primary point of battle.

Cage is dumped on an aircraft carrier, callously sent into battle by a commanding officer (a very fun Bill Paxton, spouting lines like, Battle is the great redeemer in a Kentucky accent), and outfitted in a high-tech exoskeleton he doesn't know how to operate. When he lands on Normandy or thereabouts, he's an easy target for the aliens, dubbed Mimics.

The Mimics resemble black, scampering dreadlock wigs or electrified Rorschach Tests. When a particularly big one swallows Cage, his day resets. This is Groundhog Day with guns.

This time around, though, it's not Sonny and Cher that wake him up each day but a drill sergeant calling him maggot. Whereas Bill Murray got to learn how to play the piano and fall in love, Cage must become a better killer. He strives to make it through the battle, getting a little further each time before dying. He quickly pairs with the most celebrated fighter in the war (Emily Blunt), who recognizes his strange predicament.

Edge of Tomorrow, which was penned by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, entertains in its narrative playfulness - another entry in the burgeoning fad of puzzle-making sci-fi, as seen in Inception and Looper. Few filmmakers have Liman's knack for smart plotting; his much earlier Go inventively connected three intertwined stories.

The zippiness does fade in the second half of Edge of Tomorrow. And the title (perhaps the most belabored way possible of saying tonight) could also use a replay. But among countless sequels and remakes, the high-concept Edge of Tomorrow - both a Tom Cruise celebration and parody - is the right kind of a rerun.

Edge of Tomorrow, a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material. Running time: 119 minutes. Three stars out of four.


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