EDGE OF TOMORROW (PG13)
113 minutes/Opens tomorrow
The story: Military public relations officer Cage (Tom Cruise) is embedded in an invasion force against his will. The attack on a stronghold controlled by alien invaders fails, but Cage finds that every time he dies, he is thrown back in time by a day, reliving the invasion. He meets war hero Rita (Emily Blunt) and discovers she knows why time keeps looping and has plans to use it against the aliens.
Your parents were right: The only way you will get anywhere in life is if you practise, practise, practise. That Asian concept of success through repetitive drills is kicked up a notch in this noisily entertaining if unreflective work based on best-selling Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.
Desk jockey Cage is trapped in time's stutter and, in video-game fashion, wins unlimited do-overs. He is aided by Rita, who seems to have mastered the art of killing the tentacle-limbed, hive-mind beasts.
Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, 2002; Jumper, 2008) keeps the story comprehensible as plot details accumulate with each recursion.
His scale is small and the humanmonster fights are intimate affairs - the majority of the showdowns are horror-house hunts rather than pitched battles between vast armies. It makes for a refreshing change from space apocalypse flicks with a heavy emphasis on titanic struggles.
Never mind that the human infantry fight in clumsy mech-suits against a hyper-agile enemy. It makes little tactical sense, but adds visual flair.
And looking good is what this film strives mainly to do. Little effort is spent on meaningful exposition; a couple of throwaway lines are all it takes to explain the time-loop phenomenon.
No conceptual surprises spring from Cage's many re-spawns, other than the gift of more battle preparation time. Cage, when rebooted with the memory of all previous reboots intact, dances around an oblivious Rita in the manner of a sweatier, more weapons-based 50 First Dates (2004).
Edge's premise makes it sound dangerously like a video-game movie, but it is nowhere as aggressively dumb as, say, a work from the Resident Evil franchise.
The treatment here is better, but only marginally so.
While recent sci-fi works Source Code (2011) and Looper (2012) have fun with the logical paradoxes of time travel, this work's straight-line, poker-faced approach to temporal commuting feels dated.
Like its hero, this could do with a do-over.
This article was first published on June 4, 2014.
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