Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow is a horrible title for a pretty good film. You should also know that the aliens, who look like giant squids on steroids, can move quicker in water than Lance Armstrong could on a bike using the same drug.

Edge of TomorrowQuite frankly, after seeing last year’s regrettable Oblivion, I held out little hope for another futuristic Tom Cruise movie. However, I must say that Edge of Tomorrow finds a way to rediscover Mr. Cruise’s admitted talents. Apparently, all you have to do is repeatedly kill him, thereby allowing him to relive his past in order to rectify his mistakes. What took so long to discover something so obvious?

First and foremost, Edge of Tomorrow would have been more effectively promoted as a film starring Emily Blunt with Mr. Cruise appearing in a supporting role. As usual, she is memorable, while Mr. Cruise is able to play off of her in a meaningful fashion. Their collaboration results in an ornery little action film that is pretty damned entertaining.

Taking place in the future, Cruise plays a cowardly intelligence officer named Cage who has no combat training or experience. Demoted and disgraced by a commanding general played with typical gusto by Brendan Gleeson, he is forced to take part in a D-Day-type invasion of Europe to fight destructive alien invaders.

As seen in the previews, the invasion becomes a misguided farce, and all of the soldiers are killed, including Cruise. However, for reasons that will eventually be made clear, Cruise awakens two days earlier and is forced to repeatedly die where he relives everything over and over again.

Though this sounds completely absurd, Director Doug Liman handles it in a matter that creates a gravitational pull causing the audience to pay attention regardless of their initial reactions. More importantly, what galvanizes the film is Cruise’s interaction with a female soldier, Rita, who is a poster girl for the military where she is promoted as the Angel of Normandy.

Ms. Blunt plays Rita, and she is nothing less than an intelligent whirling dervish. When it becomes clear that she is aware that Cage will become reborn after he dies, the rest of the film centers on their combined attempt to find a way to strike at the heart of the enemy.

Sure, every scene is repeated as in the memorable Groundhog Day (1993), but any other comparison ends there. The focus here is on Cruise and Blunt learning from prior mistakes that resulted in Cruise’s unintended death. In reality, his demise was a learning experience that brought everyone back to life, and there are some pretty funny moments where Blunt simply kills him when she becomes exasperated with his incompetence.

Though Edge of Tomorrow centers on its two main stars, the film is helped by the performances of Mr. Gleeson as General Brigham and Bill Paxton as a profoundly dismissive drill instructor, Sergeant Farell. At times, Mr. Paxton’s performance will remind you of the memorable role of R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the classic Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket (1987).

However, this movie centers on the obvious talent of Ms. Blunt. Like Jennifer Lawrence and a few other actresses working today, she is immensely attractive in a way that is often rejected in Hollywood. She is the personification of what makes so many normal women look hot, and all you need to do is look at her prior cinematic contributions ranging from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) to Looper (2012) to understand her incredible artistic talent.

As for Mr. Cruise, he hasn’t really been this good since the crazed character he portrayed in Tropic Thunder (2008). Maybe those who embrace Scientology as a religion should take a close look to see if it erodes acting talent.