Finally, after a series of summer popcorn movies that haven't lived up to their full potential, "Edge of Tomorrow" is a film to see over and over again. The great thing is you can do that in one screening.
"Edge" takes the familiar genre of alien invasion and gives it a "Groundhog Day" rewind element. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a master of public relations, is roped into being on the front lines of a battle with alien invaders where the fate of the world comes down to one big showdown.
Cage's lack of skills gets him killed minutes into the battle. But that's just the start of his story. Good thing. It would have been a very short movie. Instead, Cage has picked up the head alien's ability to reset time. Each time Cage is killed, he pops back to the same moment before the invasion. Along with the help of the military's best weapon, super soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who temporarily had the same time-shifting abilities, Cage uses each recurring day as a way to learn how to defeat the aliens.
Director Doug Liman does a marvelous job of creating the time loop while still managing to move the story along. He doesn't get bogged down in a complete repetition of the day but offers just enough pieces to keep the movie moving. When he does spend time on one scene, it's usually a well-crafted battle sequence.
Time travel is always tricky. Once a person goes back in time, the ripple effect of what they do becomes a major concern. It's a concern that's embraced in "Edge" as the idea is that the massive number of trips back in time are designed to make changes in the future. Liman even manages to insert some humor into the time traveling through some comical moments for Cage.
Everything about the way Liman presents this time-tripping tale is done on a grand scale. Soldiers are equipped with a massive robotic skeleton of weaponry to fight the aliens, and their foes are a grizzly mass of spaghetti-like creatures with the temperament of rabid dogs.
Cruise redeems himself for the slow-moving sci-fi offering "Oblivion" that also covered a short time period but seemed an eternity long. "Edge" gives him both the chance to play the intense action hero that he's embraced from "Mission: Impossible" to "Jack Reacher" but still having the time to show off his boyish (the word "mannish" seems wrong) charms.
The relationship between Blunt and Cruise works not because of some forced romantic element but out of the comradeship that comes out of countless tours of duty together. Granted, Cage dies hundreds — probably thousands — of times, so their tour is technically one day. Liman stops the clock long enough for them to share some sweet moments but never long enough to disrupt the quick tempo of the production.
There are only two weaknesses. The ending is too safe, and the 3-D offers nothing more than a reason to charge moviegoers more money. Otherwise, "Edge of Tomorrow" is the kind of film that can be enjoyed time after time.
"Edge of Tomorrow," rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, language. Stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton. Directed by Doug Liman. Running time: 113 minutes. Grade: B+