Published Jun 05, 2014As popular as it's become to mock Tom Cruise for his tendency to hop upon couches, accuse Matt Lauer of glibness, or unabashedly proselytize Scientology, the masses continue to show up for his movies. Edge of Tomorrow provides the best recent evidence as to why: Cruise's star presence has rarely shone brighter. He delivers razor sharp dialogue with the savvy and charm of an old Hollywood pro. He also somehow looks identical to how he did 15 years ago.
The team of pencil-necked analysts and accountants that choose Cruise's scripts for him sure hit a home run this time. Edge of Tomorrow is that rarest of birds, a summer action movie that not only has an intelligent premise, but delivers on that premise from start to finish. This big tent release, rife with explosions and tinnitus-inducing noises, actually gets better as it nears its conclusion (which is virtually unheard of). If this review were graded on a curve against other summer action movies, it would break right out of the 1 to 10 system and garner a 15.
The only hackneyed part of the whole experience may be the main character's name: Major William Cage. (Is there some automatic name generator software they use to come up with these?) Cage is a PR person who falls out of favour with the military for taking a moral stand against certain recruiting techniques. He's railroaded into a suicide mission against an alien race of Mimics hell-bent on taking over the earth. Cage promptly dies in his first mission, but due to swallowing some magic alien blood, he wakes up at the beginning of it; cue the Groundhog Day shenanigans.
Director Doug Liman has a feather light touch here. Cage dies dozens of times, and each death works as a playful tweak on genre expectations. The intelligence of the audience is never insulted, material is only replayed when absolutely necessary, and the concept is implemented with maximum economy.
After many false starts, Cage meets up with Rita (Emily Blunt), a war hero who once had the same condition. Blunt is as lean and muscular as it's humanly possible for her to be, and while Blunt's range as an actress has never been in question, her performance here is right on par with Cruise's megawatt star power. The movie is big, bold and fun enough without her, but she lends it an emotional weight that anchors an otherwise zany joyride.