EDGE OF TOMORROW (7.5 OF 10) – Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, based on the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and Directed by Doug Liman; starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, and Brendan Gleeson. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material. In wide release June 6, 2014: 113 minutes. 

It would have been easy to dismiss this movie based on the marketing material. Tom Cruise stars in this sci-fi take on what appears to be nothing more than Harold Ramis' "Groundhog Day." And while the similarities do, certainly exist, it's much more difficult to ignore the allure of "Edge of Tomorrow" than I would have thought possible. The film is actually based on a book with a much better title called, "All You Need Is Kill."

The film plays very much like a take on Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers." Instead of the history of the Rodger Young, the parallels to World War II come in an alien invasion that starts in Germany and takes over Europe in much the same pattern the Nazis had. Early victories were few against the enemy, but they believe invading the beaches of France once more will be the key to winning the war. 

Cruise plays a coward of a military PR flack named Cage, destined to die on the front lines of a battle on the beaches of France against his will. But because his blood mixes with the alien enemy, he discovers that the reason the humans are losing the war so badly is because of an alien ability that lets them reset time when the battles don't move in their favor. But because Cruise is the star, he finds that he's become the reset button, and he needs to face his cowardice and become an actual soldier in order to save the day.

This film is a popcorn flick, through and through, but Doug Liman keeps the story and pacing tight, never making you bored with repeated scenes inherent in a movie about repeating the same day over and over again. Though the script is very much by the numbers once the concept is laid out, it's the direction that keeps it moving at a very brisk pace. In fact, Liman so capably infuses all the frustration of a good video game, dying over and over again only to have to start back from the beginning to get one step further at the end, that I will bet that "Edge of Tomorrow" will resonate strongly with the XBox and Playstation crowd.

The thing that makes the movie most entertaining, though, isn't the standard action sequence fare, but the humor laced throughout the film. Tom Cruise is quickly under the control of Bill Paxton, playing a Kentucky Master Sergeant named Farell, who seems to be equal parts R. Lee Ermey and Hicks from "Aliens." The way they play off of each other makes me wonder why they haven't been teamed up like this before.

The film manages to be funny, so it can never be accused of taking itself too seriously.

I found myself enjoying this film much more than I expected to, though the film is not without complaint. There are leaps in logic through the last act of the film that could be frustrating to some viewers, particularly Brendan Gleeson's stubborn General Brigham character, but at no point should that interrupt your enjoyment. There was one major plot hole that had me scratching my head, though, (Why didn't the Alpha just kill itself when they got close to the Omega?! That's what they're there for!) but it didn't diminish my enjoyment too much. 

Cruise once again proves that he can carry a film and is more likable than anyone ever seems to want to give him credit for. Emily Blunt carries on as the female lead and all around "female soldier" badass cut from the video gaming cloth of Samus Aran. She does it capably and most will be happy with her portrayal, but it felt like you could have switched her role with Cruise's and we'd have had a movie twice as exciting and fresh.

The film is truly exciting, but the Spielberg ending, odd plotholes, and the Screenwriting 101 script prevent it from being a breakout masterpiece like it had the potential to be. It's very fun. Go see it, but don't spend too much time worrying about the screenplay.

7.5 out of 10. 

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