Edge of Tomorrow Review
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After dancing his way into movie-lovers’ hearts in 1983’s Risky Business, Tom Cruise rocketed to A-list status—and he’s been there ever since. Though he’s had his share of hits and misses—and plenty of personal blunders—through the years, the 50-something star seems be bouncing back to his old box-office-busting ways, enjoying the big-budget thrills of summer blockbusters like 2013’s Oblivion and this summer’s Edge of Tomorrow.

In this time-traveling sci-fi thriller, Cruise stars as Major William Cage, a smooth-talking U.S. military officer who becomes the spokesman for a long and deadly war against an alien race. But after he tries to blackmail his way out of an assignment on the front lines, he finds himself stripped of his rank and forced into battle.

Even before the troops land, things go horribly wrong. Cage is eventually killed in battle, only to wake up and begin the day again. So, with each new repeat of the day, he uses his growing knowledge to become a skilled warrior.

Sure, we’ve all seen this kind of time-looping movie before—whether it’s the comic Groundhog Day variety or the grittier Source Code variety. But just because the gimmick isn’t unique (and the title is totally generic), that doesn’t mean that Edge of Tomorrow is flat or forgettable. The set-up is still new—and Cage’s ongoing training makes the film feel much like a real-life video game. With each new attempt, he learns more of the game’s secrets and masters the complex series of steps needed to get to each new level. As he gets closer to his target, the suspense builds. And despite the cyclical nature of the story, it rarely feels repetitive or dull.

Cruise, meanwhile, seems to be at his best when he loosens up a bit—when he stops taking himself so seriously. And in Edge of Tomorrow, he lets himself have some fun. Major Cage isn’t the typical summer blockbuster hero. He’s both arrogant and cowardly—and that sets him up to be the butt of a few jokes. Yet Cruise handles it all with a knowing grin, slowly and methodically transforming the character from a self-important jerk into a determined soldier before becoming just the right kind of hero: the unlikely kind.

As a whole, the film does the same thing: it takes itself lightly. That’s not to say that it’s an action comedy—or that it has some of those awkward, over-the-top moments that feel entirely out of place. Instead, it has some fun with a serious topic, allowing the characters to play a little. And that light touch helps to make the movie entertaining—but not silly.

As is often the case with this kind of time-traveling thriller, though, Edge of Tomorrow comes with its share of flaws—and the ending isn’t entirely satisfying. But if you’re looking for some heart-pounding sci-fi action to pair with your jumbo popcorn and soda on a sweltering summer night, you don’t need to search for the hottest new action star; feel free to stick with a lovable old one.

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