'Edge of Tomorrow' is well-executed deja vu

Matt Pais movie review: 'Edge of Tomorrow'

'Edge of Tomorrow'

'Edge of Tomorrow' (June 4, 2014)

**1/2 (out of four)

In 1993’s “Groundhog Day,” a grumpy weatherman (Bill Murray) rode an emotional roller coaster while reliving the same day on repeat. Long before YOLO was and then wasn’t a thing, the movie told an unexpectedly winning story about how to live and that, to an extent, any day can be a great day. (Certain terms and conditions may apply.)

Now it’s another trip around the clock with “Edge of Tomorrow,” an entertaining version of a video store clerk making a love connection between the boxes for “Groundhog Day” and “Starship Troopers.” Based on the 2004 Japanese novel “All You Need is Kill,” “Edge of Tomorrow” stars Tom Cruise as a man … forced to relive the same day on repeat. It’s much like “Groundhog Day,” with small-town Pennsylvania replaced by mid-apocalypse London and the groundhog replaced by alien invaders who are ugly blurs of tentacles and death. Through a perceived loophole in the aliens’ behavior, Cage (Cruise), made to become a soldier, wakes up and starts over every time he dies in a battle to, as usual, save humanity.

Cage’s lone ally is a famous super-soldier named Rita (Emily Blunt, who also messed with time in “Looper”). That also was the name of Andie MacDowell’s “Groundhog Day” character, which I assume author Hiroshi Sakurazaka and the film’s writers (including “Usual Suspects” scribe Christopher McQuarrie) wouldn’t call a coincidence. Rita tells Cage to find her after he dies, suggesting she can help in this futuristic wasteland that’s more compelling than Cruise’s “Oblivion.” Director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”) keeps the action pumping, particularly in a military attack sequence that’s like a sci-fi “Saving Private Ryan.” In a summer when so far only “Godzilla” has generated excitement from its spectacle, “Edge of Tomorrow” gets it done.

“Tomorrow” isn’t surprising or about much, though, quickly moving toward familiar chronological gymnastics and away from a topical notion of how much easier it is to recruit folks to fight than do the fighting yourself. Where Phil initially panicked in “Groundhog Day,” Cage adapts to his role quite calmly.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is kinda funny and never boring, even as you think just how many non-alien-related movies (including “About Time,” “Source Code” and even “The Truman Show”) fall under the same umbrella. Perhaps it’s appropriate that “Edge” feels like hearing a joke for the second time and still mildly chuckling.

Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.

mpais@tribune.com

 

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