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Cruise's 'Edge of Tomorrow' is fantastically far more than typical sci-fi fare

Cruise and Blunt in "Edge of Tomorrow"
Cruise and Blunt in "Edge of Tomorrow"
Warner Bros. Pictures

Edge of Tomorrow


As might be expected, the “Edge of Tomorrow” fits the bill as a briskly entertaining big-budget, sci-fi Tom Cruise vehicle, but it is much more than the sum of its assumed action film parts. “Edge of Tomorrow” is, unexpectedly, ingenious and humorous. At its core, “Edge of Tomorrow” is a best-case scenario mashup of an end-of-the-world alien invasion sci-fi spectacular combined with the humor and existentialist musings of the now-classic Bill Murray film, “Groundhog Day.”

Tom Cruise plays Major Cage, a self-involved former advertising exec, who has become a wartime media spin master in some not-too-distant future. Cage is tasked by the Americans to promote military enlistment and gain public support of all-out war on the Mimics, a creepy race of endlessly adapting metallic spider/animal-like creatures who have invaded the earth and decimated most of Europe.

General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) of the newly formed United Defense Force (UDF) brings the talented media manipulator, Cage, to London, intending to have him dangerously report from the front line to record the D-Day like invasion of Europe that will occur tomorrow. Seeing himself as far too important to be put at wartime risk, Cage refuses to be put in harm’s way to publicly promote the invasion. In response, Brigham brands Cage a “deserter,” busts him to down to the rank of private, and has him placed him in handcuffs, under the direction of Master Sgt. Farrell (Bill Paxton).

Sgt. Farrell, a tough-talking Kentuckian soldier (who sees battle as the only “great redeemer”) throws the non-battle-ready, non-military trained Cage directly into “J- Squad.” The Squad will be dropped tomorrow (into likely certain death) on the beaches of Europe while attempting to combat the Mimics. Without any battle experience, Cage has no idea how to operate his weaponized ExoSuit against the Mimics, but his sudden drop from a futuristic helicopter into the mass chaos of a bloody D-Day-like battle ultimately kickstarts a cycle of repetition. Soon after briefly seeing Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), known as the UDF’s non-stop killing machine, on the bloody battlefield, Cage has an unexpected encounter that precipitates his day to start over again.

And, snap, suddenly Cage is reliving his same day from the beginning, again and again: being branded a “deserter,” being assigned to “J-Squad,” being part of the drop into enemy territory in Europe, seeing Sgt. Vrataski, facing the Mimics, and so on. Cage is caught endlessly and repeatedly in the same day, without explanation, resetting the same day each time he is killed. After the initial shock and confusion of the reentrance into the same day, Cage attempts to investigate why the repetition is occurring and finds out that Sgt. Vrataski once shared the same fate. With Vrataski’s help, Cage tries to find out how he can reinvent his same day in order to stop the seemingly prescient Mimics from a complete planet takeover.

Adapted from the Japanese novel, “All You Need Is Kill “ (by Hiroshi Sakurazaka), “The Edge of Tomorrow” feels fresh even though the audience has seen plenty of sci-fi films that involve a man who, alone, knows much about an ill-fated future. And, although Blunt and Cruise are fantastic in their action sequences, the freshness seems to come from the film’s unexpected Gallows humor. A la “Groundhog Day,” it is genuinely amusing (and, at times, fully laugh-out-loud comical) to see Cruise repeatedly meet his end while incrementally collecting new information, as the audience knows full well he will soon wake from any boneheaded mistakes to return to the same day again.

In a way, it feels as if Cruise, himself, is sending a silver-screen sendup of himself to his critics, skewering his untouchable real-life persona by stripping his character powerless and demonstrating the behind-the-scenes step-by-step work it really takes to precipitate personal change. Further, Blunt’s portrayal of “Full Metal” Sgt. Vrataski is also unlike any performance we have seen from her before. Here, Blunt embodies an all-out warrior, ready to stand completely toe-to-toe as a soldier against the menacing Mimics. Vrataski represents the courage Cage wishes he had, and that he will spend indeterminable time searching for within himself. “Edge of Tomorrow” is a definite winner for the summer movie season and is rated 4+ of 5 stars.

"Edge of Tomorrow" is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material."

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