“Edge of Tomorrow:” On the edge of great sci-fi

Ties to history, Emily Blunt kicking butt and each day lived over and over make the film worthy of box office prices

Before seeing Edge of Tomorrow, I heard the action flick was a sci-fi version of Bill Murray’s classic Groundhog Day. Although the comparison has its merits, Tom Cruise‘s soldier is stuck in a time loop and relives the same bloody day, Groundhog Day had emotional and even poignant views on death.

In Edge of Tomorrow, director Doug Liman plays Cruise’s spontaneous and countless deaths for humorous breaks in the violent action. The strangest thing? The deaths almost work as well as in Groundhog Day. Land mines, random trucks and innumerable bullets destroy Cruise; the laughs come when he sidesteps the pitfalls the next day with looks of exhaustion and satisfaction.

Even the movie’s portrayal of combat injuries is realistic, but that’s only when Cruise’s life and the day he’s living turn out to be expendable early in the story. Once the film’s climax comes around, the characters sadly turn into the clichéd indestructible action heroes.

Although he has played military men before, it might be strange to buy Cruise — all 5′ 7″ of him — as a soldier donning half-baked Iron Man armor. Good thing his Major William Cage isn’t really a soldier; his rank is more of a courtesy title. He’s a media relations affiliated with the US military, but General Brigham (a stubborn Brendan Gleeson) punishes Cage for desertion by putting him on the front lines of a human invasion of alien-occupied Europe.

After his first death on the battlefield, Cage wakes up in handcuffs outside of basic training. Just like the day before. Dazed and confused, he eventually seeks the help of Rita (Emily Blunt), a kick-butt soldier who lives up to her intimidating war propaganda posters (she’s nicknamed “Full Metal Bitch”).

Blunt is stern and tough, but there’s just something about Cruise’s smugness that meshes with Cage, his character who knows everything that will happen in the near future. It might be Cruise’s trademark grin oozing that know-it-all charm, or it could be Liman’s commitment to a semi-lighthearted sci-fi take on the D-Day invasion of 1944.

The movie might say that shape-shifting aliens have landed in Germany and taken over Europe and Scandinavia, but Liman cleverly references real history when his soldiers land on northern French beaches to free the continent of tyranny.

It’s kinda cool that Edge of Tomorrow opens on the 70th anniversary, right?

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