It's deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra, for Tom Cruise's cocky alien fighter in "Edge of Tomorrow," a slick souped-up sci-fi adventure set in the near future.
Tinged with good humor and kicked up a notch in bells and whistles, the movie treads the same familiar territory as "Source Code," "Groundhog Day," and "The Butterfly Effect."
Yet, there is a style to all the frantic chaos and military combat action that is engaging.
After the "Oblivion" debacle and his decline in popularity over the years, Cruise is in self-mocking mode, flipping his studly hero image to play a cowardly weasel that must eat plenty of humble pie in order to redeem himself and save the world.
He portrays Lt. Col. Bill Cage, an officer who has managed to avoid combat until an annoyed general puts him on the front lines of a suicide mission.
A nasty alien race -- is there any other kind? -- is taking over the globe. Called Mimics, these snarling, whirling metal Medusas are always one step ahead of the humans. Cage is killed quickly on the battlefield, but inexplicably returns from the dead -- over and over in a bizarre time loop.
Using this experience to his advantage, he enlists the help of a very buff Emily Blunt as Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski. With the clock running out, can they defeat the enemy in the nick of time?
A still boyish Cruise is fine while Emily Blunt is dandy in this zippy spectacle. They won't be overshadowed by all the razzle-dazzle hardware. Blunt, who looks tremendous, can hold her own while fighting the space monsters.
The best character in the movie, however, is good old reliable Bill Paxton as a no-nonsense drill sergeant. He has fun bossing Cruise around, and gets the biggest laughs.
Director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") keeps up a commendable pace and stays focused, even when things get a wee bit frayed.
Adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's 2004 novel "All You Need is Kill," the script, credited in part to Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar for "The Usual Suspects"), has a cheekiness that's appealing.
The playful vibe helps keep the dramatic conflicts fresh.
What Doesn't Work
We're plopped into the middle of this global conflict, and it is indeed complicated. I couldn't figure out too much about these beasties we're fighting. Why are all our high-tech enemies designed to be overly grotesque?
3 stars out of 4
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.