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'Edge of Tomorrow:' An excellent case of déjà vu

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Edge of Tomorrow

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Tom Cruise dies in his new sci-fi film “Edge of Tomorrow.” By the way: Spoiler alert.

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If you happen to hate Tom Cruise because of his tendency to constantly play a guy who saves the world through insane physical stunts and occasional bouts of shouting, then watching Tom Cruise die horribly is enough of a reason to watch “Edge of Tomorrow.” Another reason to watch “Edge of Tomorrow” is because of its good sci-fi storytelling with intense action and excellent pacing that results in an enjoyable film that stars Tom Cruise.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is based off Hiroshi Sakurazaka's light novel “All You Need Is Kill.” In “All You Need Is Kill,” mankind launches a last-ditch mission to eradicate the aliens that have invaded Earth. A Japanese soldier is killed within minutes of the mission. But death isn't as permanent as he expects as he finds himself caught in a time loop that causes him to repeat the events of the day before the mission up to his death. Throughout “All You Need Is Kill,” the skills of the Japanese soldier improves with each passage of the time loop as he desperately struggles to change his fate and save the world.

The most obvious difference between “Edge of Tomorrow” and “All You Need Is Kill” is that the Japanese soldier is now a guy played by Tom Cruise.

“Edge of Tomorrow” initially feels like Bill Murray's “Groundhog Day” film without the Buddhist themes of selflessness and rebirth. But “Edge of Tomorrow” is at heart an action sci-fi film that trims most of the sci-fi in favor of action and human struggle. It briefly establishes the aliens and the sci-fi military powered suits, but doesn't delve into either in favor of highlighting Tom Cruise's development from coward to a soldier determined to save the world and rescue his comrade in arms played by Emily Blunt.

The result is an easy to follow story with plenty of action to keep your attention. The film feels like a Let's Play of a difficult video game like a sci-fi version of “Dark Souls” as Tom Cruise finds himself progressing through his day, dying, repeating the events of that day up to where he's supposed to die, having the foresight and training to avoid that death, and progressing further before dying again or achieving the goal of saving the world. Viewers get to witness the growth in skill and humanity of Tom Cruise's character as he progresses through his war while bonding with the people who he meets and has had plenty of the same conversations with through each passage through the time loop. Each time loop winds up having a good mix of action, character development, and humor.

It's not a perfect piece of sci-fi storytelling. The alien designs aren't that interesting. The 3D is a pointless gimmick used to charge extra for a theater ticket. And the final act gives Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt way more plot armor than is necessary.

But in the end, “Edge of Tomorrow” is an entertaining popcorn sci-fi film that should interest some viewers to check out its source material “All You Need Is Kill” as it brings up that interesting concept of repeating time loop that can cause things to repeat themselves.

Tom Cruise dies in his new sci-fi film “Edge of Tomorrow.” By the way: Spoiler alert.

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