Edge of Tomorrow ★★★★

There haven't been many actors like Tom Cruise who have managed to remain at the top purely on star quality and for such a long time. Once he reached the summit he has never left it and will only now depart on his own terms. He'll never be recognised for his limited acting ability but the man sure knows how to shoulder a blockbuster, returning all guns blazing with his annual summer release.

What is pleasing to see is Cruise still up for a challenge and that these roles are more than just money in the bank. He is happy to go along with the directors playfulness in a film that doesn't take itself too seriously at all. That also applies to his Major Cage character who spends most of his time out of his depth, a man whose smugness is swept from underneath him very early on.

The laughs, along with the action, come thick and fast in the first half of the film. The idea of Cage reliving the same day over and over is one that in the wrong hands could turn into a tired, cheap trick. Doug Liman and his writing team use the 'reset' idea to great effect, Cage is turned into a video game lab rat dying again and again, most likely hundreds of times just to get beyond the battlefield.

That idea also serves as an allegory for war, how life as a solider in battle loses its definition, every day becoming a blur of death and carnage, nothing to distinguish one moment from the next. As Cage reaches the point where the loop threatens to wear him down we feel just as fatigued as he does. This more serious theme isn't heavily played into but it does help to create an emotional platform that establishes the film as more than just Tom, time travel and testosterone.

Alongside Cruise is Emily Blunt as the 'Angel of Verdun', a tough no-nonsense soldier who serves as the inspiration for the human fight back against the alien Mimics. Seeing her in the role isn't too much of a surprise given she has been edging deeper into the sci-fi world with The Adjustment Bureau and Looper. Blunt has a real sense of steely femininity that is neither too harsh or too soft, giving her character a very realistic balance. That is thankfully never betrayed by the writing, her self belief not undermined by an all conquering male hero.

Both the creature design and the action are clearly composed meaning we never lose track of who is where and what is taking place. There are few moments of respite allowed in a blockbuster that realises stretching itself beyond two hours doesn't necessarily equal more entertainment. One or two gripes do exist in the relationship between the two leads and more so with the cop-out ending but these aren't detrimental enough to ruin what will probably be the blockbuster of the summer and one of the best from recent years.

Steven liked these reviews