Movie review: Tom Cruise is back in control in 'Edge of Tomorrow'
It used to be that there was cool, and there was Tom Cruise.
Now, there's Tom Cruise in "Edge of Tomorrow," which is cool on top of cool.
The one-time can't-miss movie star of our generation returns to anchor one of the smartest and most exciting action movies you're likely to see.
In the near future, as director Doug Liman ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "The Bourne Identity") sets up in a quick montage of CNN-style coverage, a ferocious alien race has invaded the Earth taking over much of western Europe. The tendril-shooting aliens, called Mimics, are at one point repelled at Verdun, with much of the credit given to one heroic soldier, Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), and the troops' heavily weaponized supersuits.
Now the United Defense Force, made up mostly of British and American troops, is preparing a massive assault on the Mimic stronghold. Cruise's character, Maj. William Cage, is a U.S. Army public-relations expert called in by Gen. Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) to embed with the first wave. When Cage, a rear-echelon type, tries to get out of the assignment, Brigham has him arrested and dumped at the launch zone at Heathrow airport identified by a tough master sergeant (Bill Paxton) as a private and a deserter.
Dropped on a beach midinvasion, Cage dies fairly soon in battle, sprayed by the acid blood of a commanding Mimic. Then he wakes up again, at Heathrow, and the past day plays out all over, again ending with his death.
Then it happens again. And again. And again.
Cage soon figures out that, thanks to the alien blood spray, he has gained the aliens' ability to go back in time. He also meets Vrataski, who once had the same ability but lost it; she teaches him how to survive longer each time.
Don't think of it as "Groundhog Day" with aliens. Think of it instead as the ultimate video-game reset button.
Blunt is ferocious as the tough-talking Vrataski, and she fits in well with the grunts in combat here. Cruise is faced with the harder transition, as his craven Cage gradually becomes a hard-bitten fighting machine and he employs his considerable acting skill and movie-star charisma to make that transition seamless.
Adapting Hiroshi Sakurazaka's manga "All You Need Is Kill," Liman and his screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects") and brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (who worked with Liman on "Fair Game") set up the time-loop scenario with lucidity and sometimes a dash of humor. (Give credit, too, to the film's editor, James Herbert, who keeps the action fluid and the repeated moments fresh.)
Best of all, this movie moves like a bat out of hell. The action is big, loud and unrelenting, pretty much from beginning to end. The only thing about "Edge of Tomorrow" that isn't ridiculously exciting is that snooze of a title, which seems more befitting of a TV soap opera than an edge-of-your-seat action thriller.
'Edge of Tomorrow'
Tom Cruise regains his status as the movies' coolest leading man in this trippy action thriller about a soldier caught in an endless time loop.
Where • Theaters everywhere.
When • Opens Friday, June 6.
Rating • PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.
Running time • 112 minutes.