MPW-93314Edge of Tomorrow (2014).

D: Doug Liman. DP: Dion Beebe. W: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth (based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill.) Starring: Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt/Brendan Gleeson/Bill Paxton/Jonas Armstrong/Tony Way/Kick Gurry/Charlotte Riley/Noah Taylor/Franz Drameh/Dragomir Mrsic/Masayoshi Haneda.

The new edition in the Tom Cruise canon of movies has arrived. Edge of Tomorrow is a slick, large scale sci-fi flick that steals as much as it repeats old ideas. It certainly is thin competition to this year’s heavy summer lineup.

This time we find Tom Cruise as Cage, a wide grinned all American looking boy selling the army and all its bells whistles. Finding himself coerced into combat he makes it to his first mission and wakes up to repeat it all again. Soon Cruise discovers that Emily Blunt’s Rita, the poster gal of this new war on aliens, is the key to Cruise’s mission. Every time he dies he is sent back to the same day only to have to find her again and try to stop the massive attack or navigate their way through it.

Blunt is terse and believable here. Her no-nonsense practicality helps them coordinate their attack and offers a good counter to Cruise’s Cage. At least she is spared a romantic sub plot we’d have to grin and bear. One can’t help but wonder how much better of a film it would be if she was the true lead.

My problem with any Tom Cruise film of the last decade or so is his brand sort of acting. You walk into the theater knowing and/or expecting a certain and same performance from him. This performance is rarely creative, layered or of any great depth. His films of note for me are good regardless of his performance. However, this sort of generic delivery works well in an international market and is clearly a bankable product. But that is exactly what it feels like, a product. In Edge of Tomorrow his sparkly grin and physical approach to acting, like stunts come to life, actually works. Also, his Peter Pan esq or never changing looks help trap Cage visually in his perpetual time warp.

Edge of Tomorrow suffers as its core because the premise is so overdone in cinema. From 1993’s Groundhog Day to 2011’s Source Code there are too many films about the repetition of a day or alternating time lines that are more original (case in point 2000’s Memento). As a science fiction film its also a bit of a snooze, but with great bells and whistles. A gorgeous shot of London’s Trafalgar Square empty begins the film and there are beautiful sequences of action. But in the end the charm and wit of the first act is not sustained and the plot is eaten alive by the very aliens that are central to the story.

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