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"Edge of Tomorrow" serves as vehicle for Tom Cruise's acting chops

The premise – an untrained soldier has to die over and over again until he gets the battle right – could have been a farce and dead weight for Tom Cruise's career. Instead it plays as a vehicle for the 51-year-old actor to display all the acting tricks he has learned over the course of his long career. "Edge of Tomorrow" is likely to become a feather in Cruise's cap.

Tom Cruise is no stranger to action films, having made four "Mission Impossible" movies, a couple of military movies and even a samurai film. He also hasn't shied away from science fiction, what with "War of the Worlds" and "Minority Report." In "Edge of Tomorrow" Cruise balances the best of those two genres.

The Plot
The storyline of the movie is not as simple as it initially seems. While the plot does seem to be "Groundhog Day" with aliens and violent death, truthfully it plays out more as metafiction a commentary on how to watch the movie itself.

The real action starts out when Cruise's character, Major William Cage, gets deposited, Battle-of-Normandy style, on a French beach. He and his fellow soldiers are meant to battle the alien Mimics, horribly strong spider-looking creatures designed to kill. Despite his lack of battle training, Cage manages to kill one of the Mimics, dying himself when its corrosive blood washes over him.

And that's when the cycle begins. Cage must again and again relive that day, eventually honing his combat skills – helped in no small part by the female lead played by Emily Blunt.

Production
"Edge of Tomorrow" is based on the novel "All You Need is Kill" by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurasaka. Production company 3 Arts Entertainment optioned the novel in 2009 but chose to develop a spec script rather than make a pitch to a major movie studio. Warner Bros. purchased the script in 2010.

After hiring producer Doug Liman of "The Bourne Identity" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" fame to direct, the studio initially approached Brad Pitt to star as Major Cage. However, the studio then approached Cruise, who accepted in 2011. Emily Blunt joined the cast in 2012.

Production took place at Leavesden Studios just outside London. In addition to the studio, filming also took place in London's Trafalgar Square. According to Variety, the production budget was $178 million.

Box Office Forecast
For some reason, box office forecasts do not have particularly high hopes for the film's earnings in the United States. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ultimate box office success is likely to be based on how well the film does outside the United States.

Part of the problem is the cost of the film – $178 million is a sizeable amount, even in Hollywood. The Hollywood Reporter predicted "Edge of Tomorrow" would follow the way of other Cruise movies "Valkyrie" and "Oblivion," both of which did not gross over $100 million in the United States but did well worldwide. The Reporter did predict the film would gross $90 million in America and Canada and $220 million in other countries.

Variety worries that the film is "low on buzz and audience awareness," especially considering it's being released the same weekend as "22 Jump Street" and "The Fault in Our Stars." However, trailers are already in full rotation for "Edge of Tomorrow," and the other two films don't exactly share Edge's audience demographic.

Tom Cruise
As the biggest star in "Edge of Tomorrow," Cruise is ultimately going to carry the day, whether with North American or international audiences. That only bodes well for the film because Cruise channels some of the best aspects of his acting chops.

He is known for playing edgy, intelligent characters with a surprisingly laid-back personality. He's got wit. He's got charm. And he's got the confidence to pull off action roles despite his relatively small stature.

Cruise's Cage starts out as a bureaucrat, allowing the actor to display his wide smile and confident air. However, as Cage gets immersed in a world alien to him, the actor deftly transitions into exactly what the character is – hapless, hopeless and even a little whiny about the new role his life has pushed on him. That has always been Cruise's brilliance; his ability to fully channel a role no matter how subtle or how extraordinary the circumstances.

Thanks to Cruise's ability to transition so flawlessly, the audience gets to actually watch the growth and progression of Major Cage from bumbling bureaucrat to ruthless soldier. At no time is this progression a foregone conclusion, thanks to Cruise's humility in playing to the role not his ego.

So, "Edge of Tomorrow" is a film that allows Tom Cruise to display the talents that made him a megastar. He's good-looking, yes, but then most Hollywood stars are. He's charismatic on-screen, yes, but then most Hollywood stars are. What distinguishes Cruise is his ability to actually act, not just get cast in a role that requires acting. So, instead of seeing how far a name can take an actor in the film industry, the audience gets to see how well an accomplished actor can ply his skills.