Cruise’s new thriller will have you on the ‘edge’ of your seat

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In 1988, Bill Murray starred in a romantic comedy called “Groundhog Day,” a film where he was forced to repeat the same day repeatedly until his conflict was resolved. I do not remember how “Groundhog Day” ended because I was not a fan of it. I felt extremely annoyed seeing the same thing over again with minor modifications. I know it’s a fantasy, but I simply cannot wrap my head around two people falling in love with each other if they do not remember the connection they shared the previous day.

I bring this up because Tom Cruise’s new sci-fi thriller “Edge of Tomorrow” was described as “Groundhog Day” with a sci-fi twist a few months ago, to which I groaned.

The past few Cruise movies I saw (“Jack Reacher” and “Oblivion”) were not as good as they could have been, so I was crossing my fingers that “Edge of Tomorrow” would not be annoying like “Groundhog Day.” One can imagine my glee as I enjoyed this movie, with its great cast, sensational special effects, and engrossing story. In my opinion, this is Cruise’s apology to the world for his past two films.

He plays Major Cage, a military talking head forced into a war with Mimics, aliens who wish to take over Earth. Despite Cage’s lack of fighting experience, he is shipped off to serve under the command of Master Sergeant Farrell (Bill Paxton) a day before Farrell’s squad is to engage the enemy on a beach. Unfortunately, the squad is ambushed by Mimics (in one of the coolest action sequences this year), causing their ship to crash-land. Cage is quickly killed.

Much to his surprise, Cage wakes up at the beginning of the previous day. The beach trip is repeated, but this time he meets the renowned super-fighter, Rita (Emily Blunt), who tells him to find her when he dies again.

When he does, and the whole day is repeated again, Cage finds Rita and informs her of their previous meeting. It turns out that she had this ability to travel back in time at one point, and thus trains him to be a better fighter so he can win the beach over and end the cycle, and the war.

I came into this movie knowing that it had a sci-fi premise, great reviews, and Tom Cruise.

I saw one or two ads, but nothing else, and knew that “The Fault in Our Stars” was beating it financially this weekend.

I have not yet seen “Stars,” but I think Cruise needed an “Edge” to regain popularity. This film is funny, action packed, and entertaining to watch. Cruise is back in top form here, proving to us that he still has some fight left in him, and Emily Blunt possesses the perfect balance of attractiveness and acting ability that so many rising stars may never reach. Cruise and Blunt will not win academy awards for their performances, but they are definitely noticeable in a genre that, of late, relies far too heavily on special effects instead of characters.

The other bright spot of the film is its use of 3D. Those who read my reviews know I am very split on the use of 3D:

I’m not against it, but studios should only use it if it will benefit the movie, not as an easy way to wrangle hard-earned money out of the gullible consumer. I’ve been waiting for 3D like this ever since I saw “Sharkboy And Lavagirl” all those years ago: things were flying at my head, but not to the point of migraine induction.

If you can, see the movie in 3D. I promise it is worth the money.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is not for everyone. The plot gets a bit complicated, and moves like a rocket, making it hard to play catchup if you have to refill your popcorn or use the facilities. For those who enjoy fun, smart sci-fi with a story over the “Transformers” of the genre, see “Edge of Tomorrow.”

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive material.
Kevin Thomas reviews movies for The Citizen.