It’s fantastic. And I mean, absolutely, summer-blockbuster exciting, marvelous. It’s action-driven, the plot is smart and understandable, and the creatures are original and really cool. It takes all of the best aspects of James Cameron’s superb “Aliens” from 1986(including a very strong female lead), and then combines it with the “do-over” aspects of 1993’s terrific “Groundhog Day” from the late Harold Ramis. I’ve heard comparisons to Paul Verhoeven’s underrated “Starship Troopers” from 1997 as well, and those rumblings also make sense. Also, it’s funny, and it stars one of the biggest movie stars of all time—Mr. Tom Cruise. So…why the heck is barely anyone going to see it? I am certain that the vast majority of folks who experience director Doug Liman’s “Edge of Tomorrow” are going to love it, and maybe word-of-mouth will up its 2nd weekend box office take just a bit. But projections already have it grossing less than 100 million in the U.S. by the end of its domestic run—maybe even under 90 million. Those are 2012’s “The Lone Ranger”(another criminally under appreciated big-budget summer release)type of numbers. And no matter how you cut it, that will be considered a major disappointment. And this one had all the signs of a return to high-grossing form for Cruise. Isn’t it funny how his appeal continues to flounder upon the debut of one of the best things he’s ever done, yet continued to thrive during the age of “Days of Thunder” and Ron Howard’s “Far and Away”? So, is Cruise the whole problem? Maybe it’s been confirmed now, that he indeed is.
An alien race dubbed the “Mimics”(due to their uncanny combat adaptability and anticipatory abilities)have taken over Europe. Major Cage(everyone’s favorite scientologist)is an American member of NATO’s United Defense Forces(UDF), who is railroaded into actual combat(where his training is limited)by General Brigham(a solid and slimy Brendan Gleeson). The purpose is to utilize Cage to cover a major combat operation about to be set forth in France. Despite Cage’s protestations(including an attempt at blackmail)he is tranquilized by Brigham’s men upon his attempt to flee, and sent to a forward operating base, stripped of his rank, and given minimal training. It’s there that Cage, placed under the command of no-nonsense Sergeant Farell(a super Bill Paxton, “Aliens”‘s Hudson himself, now running the damn show!), suits up with the so-called “J” squad, and is soon dropped into a fierce “Mimic” battle. Almost immediately, Cage is killed. Or is he? It seems that Cage was infected during the battle with the blood of a destroyed Mimic, and acquires the time-looping, video game style capability of “resetting the day”. So, Cage perishes and then “wakes up” from his former tranquilized state to right before his first meeting with Sergeant Farell. He tries to inform “J” squad that they are about to be led to a slaughter, but they refuse to believe him, as we watch everyone around Cage do and say the exact same things that they did the day before. Cage and the troops are dropped, and again they all fall to the Mimics—and again Cage arises to the moments before his intro to Sergeant Farell. But after each and every “repeat”, Cage’s combat capability improves, while “J” team just keeps on repeating the same self-destructive stuff. So, Cage realizes that he’ll have to find some way to team up with elite veteran battler Sergeant Rita Vrataski(the reliably incredible, Emily Blunt), who just may have some insight into the “repeat” process that Cage is going through, and therefore be able to help him keep the Mimics from overtaking the entire world.
Is TC just too old(he’s almost 52)and weird(as L. Ron Hubbard’s minion)for mainstream audiences now? Ignore all that. I’ve endured a love/hate relationship with Tom myself. But Tom Cruise is great in “Edge of Tomorrow”, and the film’s very positive reviews actually got me to the theater for a Cruise movie for the first time in nearly a decade(2005’s “War of the Worlds”, to be exact). Since that time, he’s appeared in 10 motion pictures, with most of them under performing. Only the increasingly important worldwide b/o take has saved him from the dust heap. I’ve seen half of that decalogue at this point, and until now the best of the bunch have been his glorified cameo in 2008’s quite funny, “Tropic Thunder” and his best-of-the-franchise starrer in 2011’s “Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol”. With this recent domestic losing streak(“Rock of Ages”, “Jack Reacher”, “Oblivion”), is it any wonder that Cruise’s next scheduled project is another go-round with “Mission: Impossible”—number 5. Talk about re-setting the day. So, just how heartily am I recommending “Edge of Tomorrow”? Well, in this roughly two-month stretch we’ve had, of high-grossing, mostly well-reviewed, sequels and reboots, I can tell you that I found “Edge of Tomorrow” superior to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Godzilla” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”—all of which I’ve liked to varying degrees. How much better is “EoT”? Honestly, I’m pretty damn certain that it’s going to make my Top Ten films of the year. Truly. No Joke. It’s phenomenal. And I’m talking, “District 9”, or peak-Cameron and/or Ridley Scott phenomenal. And you don’t sail much higher than that. Men—head to “Edge of Tomorrow” today for Father’s Day. Bring along your son(s)if he’s old enough. And ante up for the 3D glasses. You’re gonna have a freakin’ blast. Grade: A