Playing against type, Cruise is Major William Cage, a military spokesman. Not a gung-ho soldier, he's a public relations man who promotes exo-suits (a much more realistic version than the embedded kind used in “Elysium”). All talk and no action. As a matter of fact, he would do anything to get out of a front-line assignment covering the use of exo-suits by soldiers in a real battle, including blackmailing his superior. His attempt humorously fails. He gets labeled a deserter and subsequently finds himself behind enemy line, among the rest the exo suit-equipped soldiers of the United Defense Force, a special forces unit formed to fight off the alien invasion.
Untrained, scared and dazed, Cage dies within minutes in the chaotic battlefield, but not before he luckily fires into one special alien and killing it. He's covered in its blood and dies, but then strangely wakes up in the moment before he gets dropped into battle. It doesn't take Cage long to realize that he's somehow trapped in a strange time loop, relieving the day before the battle at the base, the fight and his death.
Having this knowledge in advance, Cage is able to predict the aliens' moves before they strike and a save his fellow combatants, chief among them is a decorated war veteran, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, “The Adjustment Bureau, ” "The Devil Wears Prada"). Blunt is great here, in a gender-reversal, warrior role. It turns out that she once experienced the same phenomenon as Cage does, but lost her power when she's injured and didn't die.
It's explained that, Mimics, the impressively high velocity, octopus-like aliens were able to slaughter all the soldiers in the battle because they knew the humans were coming and they're able to anticipate the next move, and how this is all connected to Cage's reset ability. It is now up to Cage to use his power to gain an advantage over the aliens, track down their energy source and eliminate it, and thus save the human race.
Sounds logical enough, except that Cage is not anywhere near combat-ready. Consequently, he trains hard with Rita and together they team up to make him smarter, stronger and better each time. Eventually, however, it comes to the point where Cage has to make a crucial decision on his own about the best alternative course of action and move forward, since certain combination of actions could lead to Rita's permanent death.
The relentlessly-paced movie, laden with visual effects, is smartly filmed. Any story with time-loop carries the inherent risk of being repetitive. Fortunately, while there are repetitions, they aren't monotonous. Segments of interactions are zeroed in and changed based on previous knowledge. And further along, we're kept in the dark as far as what Cage has experienced earlier, and we're only brought into the fold at the same time as the other characters, which keeps the story fresh. And one thing that couldn't have been guessed from the trailer is that the movie employs a good amount of situational humor.
The action-packed movie doesn't allow much time for the development of other characters or relationships, making it not as impactful as the 2011 "Source Code," but it shows Cage's progression from zero to hero. In a visceral battle, his final act is based on his own accord and valor to do the right thing and win the war. No crystal ball needed.
This is one of those few sci-fi movies whose alien wars trailer doesn't do justice. With time-loop as a plot device, it stands a chance of being interesting or boring. “Edge of Tomorrow” is entertaining from start to finish to start to finish to start to finish...
DVD (blu-ray): http://tinyurl.com/nx4npu9
Comic-Con 2013 Exhibit