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Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) relives the same day over and over again while battling aliens in “Edge of Tomorrow.” Photo by David James
Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) relives the same day over and over again while battling aliens in “Edge of Tomorrow.” Photo by David James
ArtsRancho Santa Fe

Film Review: A little history repeating itself in ‘Tomorrow’

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are a force, but overused plot device brings time to a halt

Engineered to entertain audiences, “Edge of Tomorrow” charges into the fray with guns blazing, but the monotonous nature of the film’s time loop plot device causes all of its weapons to jam more than once.

As humanity wages war against an invading alien force, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), an officer with no combat experience, is killed almost immediately on the battlefield.

Then the inexplicable happens: for unknown reasons, he finds himself trapped in a time loop, reliving his last moments over and over again.

But each battle sharpens Cage’s fighting skills, thanks to the help of Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt).

And as they go on the offensive, every repeated firefight brings them one step closer to striking at the heart of the enemy.

Anytime you have aliens invading Earth, you need to make certain that, with respect to scale and scope, each successive set piece represents the conflict — which is precisely what director Doug Liman achieves.

The brutal, frenetic action is bolstered by immense firepower, manifesting itself in the form of either Blunt training Cruise to be a better soldier or the two racking up a high alien body count. And with the inclusion of nimble fight choreography and plentiful ammo to expend, I think it’s safe to say “Edge of Tomorrow” has the non-stop action covered.

What makes these action sequences all the more interesting is the fact that this is character-driven popcorn entertainment, and I’m impressed to see the two leads have not only a strong chemistry, but also the ability to be tough and vulnerable at the same time.

Tom Cruise delivers a decent, solid performance as the coward-turned-hero Cage; I’m not too surprised by this, since I’ve seen him give it his all in numerous action films countless times before.

Emily Blunt proves capable of wielding a deadly arsenal while retaining her dramatic edge, creating a warrior who is just as concerned about finding answers as her male lead is. And better yet, she uses a sword most of the time!

When all is said and done, “Edge of Tomorrow” gets the edge in action sequences as well as cast performances.

But upon closer inspection, one can see there is an inherent drawback within the core of the plot.

The most likely explanation for the film’s design flaws has to do with the time loop, which gets used one too many times and quickly becomes tedious.

An interesting device, yes, but its value disappears gradually as the curse of excess hinders its progress.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, as a result of this downside, a moviegoer experiences a wearisome feeling as “Edge of Tomorrow” plays out. As much as Blunt and Cruise succeed in holding the line, even their combined resolve can’t completely prevent the film from wavering.

In addition, we never get to know the aliens regarding the purpose they seek to fulfill in attacking Earth.

There are no key soldiers, there is no commanding officer, and there is no home planet.

It’s a shame the director didn’t bother observing the invasion through the aliens’ perspective; now THAT would’ve added a fascinating dimension and eliminated the surplus time loop moments.

Like any weapon designed to endure the rigors of combat, “Edge of Tomorrow” should please moviegoers looking for a workable science fiction action film.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.

Run time: 1 hour and 53 minutes

Playing: In general release