Edge of Tomorrow ★★★★

While it had already been out for awhile in many countries around the world, Edge of Tomorrow's American release day could not have been mere coincidence, coming out on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings in WWII. Much of the film's action centers on the what I assume is the same French beach, as Tom Cruise's beleaguered solider William Cage struggles against a race of robo-squid dog aliens that have invaded mainland Europe.

Edge of Tomorrow answers the never asked question, what would Groundhog Day have been like as a sci-fi/action film? While that statement, and my above paragraph, may seem mocking in tone, I rather liked the film, it offers something very rare in today's blockbusters, brains. Cruise's Cage isn't a grunt, he is a posh military PR man, who ends up forced into front line duty against the aliens, only to find himself ill-equipped and quickly dead. Except he just wakes up the day before, with all his memories of the fight, and he proceeds to watch the same events play out again, and again. From the start this isn't your typical dumb action fare, it might seem like it, but everything is a bit off.

For starters, Cruise isn't playing the usual invincible action hero, his Cage is a coward and a wimp who would rather use blackmail then fight. His first time in combat he can barely even fire his weapon. It is great seeing Cruise play so against type, and as the actor has proven throughout his career, if you hand him a different role, he can display some real acting chops. Watching Cruise bumble uselessly around a chaotic and carnage filled beach is a joy, especially as the battle itself is so well presented with no sign of glory amongst the death and dismemberment.

The time travel element is handled really well, as Cage wakes over and over to play out the same scenes to no avail, ending the day dead every time. He latches onto a battle-hardened war hero, Sergeant Rita Vrataski, played by Emily Blunt, also out of her comfort zone as a badass action heroine. Blunt handles the steel-skinned nature of her character with ease, and infuses her with a plethora of sadness and pathos. Together Cruise and Blunt share a great chemistry, and as Rita trains Cage, the action scenes only get better as the film's heart only gets stronger.

Director Doug Liman brings all of his experience from The Bourne Identity and injects it with the raw gusto of his early film Go, delivering an amazingly intense, deep and heartfelt, funny, action film. Despite the potentially confusing narrative, the plot is fun and easy to follow, but still deep and best of all, the filmmakers trust the audience to follow along, never once pandering to the lowest common denominator of movie attendee. Ironically, the battlefield of summer movies is similar to the predicament Edge of Tomorrow's lead finds himself in, it can feel like the same thing over and over, comic book movies and big-budget sequels, don't get me wrong, I look forward to many of them, but it is good to know that there is still room for a unique experience like this one that manages to be both entertaining and smart amongst all the explosions. The film isn't without its flaws, the ending in particular is a little weak, but overall Edge of Tomorrow is a movie worth watching, and probably worth rewatching, as many times as you want.

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