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'Edge of Tomorrow' is intelligent and hilarious sci-fi action fun

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Edge of Tomorrow

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Release date: June 6, 2014

Directed by: Doug Liman

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie

Based on "All You Need is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and Brendan Gleeson

Summer action movies are often big and loud. Exciting yes, but typically not very smart. But "Edge of Tomorrow" -- yes, the new Tom Cruise movie -- may just be the smartest and most exciting movie so far this summer.

The film is based on the Japanese novel "All You Need is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, but it plays more like a video game. Tom Cruise is Major Cage, a military bureaucrat who mistakenly deployed for a combat when a crazy race of alien spider monkeys invades Earth. Cage isn't much of a soldier and is killed immediately. Game over, right? Not so fast. Cage wakes up on the morning of his deployment and has to go through this day of hell and death again..and again...and again.

His mission is simple. He must find the great alien warrior, Rita aka the Full Metal Bitch (Emily Blunt), and figure out how to stop the aliens from wiping out humanity. He soon learns that he's not the first one to experience these days of live, die, and repeat, and that the mystery of his condition could be the clue to defeating the aliens. The aliens are pretty impressive themselves, presenting a genuine threat and forcing humans to rely on a mechanical combat exoskeleton in order to fight them.

If you're already rolling your eyes at the thought of watching Tom Cruise grin his way through yet another action movie, you're in luck. Yes, Tommy is in full action mode for much of the film, but there is also a softer and weaker side to his character that has been missing from recent performances. Plus, the dies literally over and over and over again in this flick, so even if you're tired of Cruise, there's literally something for everyone. Plus he's got great chemistry with Blunt, who impressively flexes her action chops.

Sure, it sounds like a sci-fi "Groundhogs Day", but it's really so much more than that. It's that same concept, living the same day over and over again, but there is a fun element to the movie that will be truly appreciated by the video gaming community. Much of the film's action feels like a live action version of any of the popular first person shooter video games, but the film's time travel element is just like dying on a game and going back to start the level over until you get it right. It's a lot of fun.

What separates this film from being like any other summer sci-fi blockbuster with a mega star attached is the script by Christopher McQuarrie. The film is not only fast paced but it's also incredibly smart and funny throughout. McQuarrie by the way directed Cruise in 2012's "Jack Reacher" and the two will re-team for the next "Mission Impossible" film, so it's clear they get each other.

Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) handles the action nicely. Some of the director's trademark shaky cam is there, but it's kept in check for the most part, allowing for a nice balance between the intense action sequences and the humor to work nicely together.

But it is a Tom Cruise movie and his grin and brooding glare never let you forget it. But it's also fantastic. So, let the hate for Cruise aside and enjoy one of the smartest and most exciting films of the year.

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material

Running time: 113 mins.

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