In “Edge of Tomorrow” Tom Cruise dies again and again, awakening and repeating the very day that leads to his death each time. The film pulsates with echoes of “Groundhog Day,” the 1993 Harold Ramis rom-com starring Bill Murray as a hapless protagonist who continually relives the day he first falls in love with the comely Rita (Andie McDowell) until he finally wins her heart. Here, Cruise’s character provides a few humorous moments, and flirts with romance, but the two films’ similarities end there.
Adapted from “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, the futuristic setup finds Earth under attack by aliens. Cruise’s character, Cage, is unexpectedly transformed from a military spin doctor into a soldier on the front lines and the wrong side of a slaughter resembling D-Day’s Normandy Beach.
Placing herself front and center in the battle is Rita (borrowing the name from “Groundhog Day,” she is played by Emily Blunt), an expert in killing the swift-moving, multi-tentacled aliens. Each time Cage dies the day rewinds and begins anew. In each rewind he seeks out Rita, Britain’s most gifted soldier. Rita remains the one constant in Cage’s repeated efforts to defeat the alien invasion.
Although the film recycles the repeating time device, it consistently delivers heart-pounding action, excellent computer-generated imagery and on Cage’s ever-deepening feelings for Rita, who turns out to be every bit the as-advertised heroic figure.
Both actors exude a persuasive physicality that suits the high-stakes action. However, without Blunt’s response to what Cruise’s character claims is his deepening attachment to Rita, we would find Cruise unconvincing.
Director Doug Liman exhibits a superb feel for pacing that makes each repetitious event flow smoothly and feel fresh. The film builds upon our growing curiosity before revealing the mechanism that allows Cage to repeat the day dozens of times. Though the technical aspects allowing this miracle are ignored, the explanation is sufficiently interesting to engage our suspension of disbelief. If “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Edge of Tomorrow” are any indication, both summer blockbusters and movie time travel have bright futures.