By Clint O'Connor, The Plain Dealer
Let's dispense with the bad bits about "Edge of Tomorrow."No. 1: Terrible title. Makes it sound like a soap opera. Bring on the evil twins, amnesia and lame make-out scenes.
No. 2: Terrible trailer. It suggested a heavy, psychological mind-bender. A boring one.
No. 3: Bad ads. Apparently, Warner Bros. has done some market research and is now repositioning the film, trying to sell it as a love story in its TV commercials.
All of this serves to cloud what "Edge of Tomorrow" truly is: a great action movie.
Director Doug Liman has created an unrelenting, rock-'em, sock- 'em thrill ride that delivers a lot of bang for your movie bucks.
Tom Cruise stars as Maj. William Cage, a PR officer ordered to the front lines by a general (Brendan Gleeson) leading the International Defense Force. You see, aliens have landed on Earth. They have killed millions and have taken over most of Europe.
The IDF is on the verge of attempting a massive D-Day-like landing in western France, albeit with soldiers inside of clunky, super-high-tech weapon suits specially designed to fight the attackers. The aliens are killing machines that look like hordes of giant swirling-twirling octopi.
Needless to say, Maj. Cage wants nothing to do with the impending slaughter, makes a run for it, is arrested, stripped of his rank and hurled into the staging area and a squad led by the ornery Sgt. Farell (Bill Paxton).
The kicker is that Cage is killed a few minutes into the landing. But that's just the beginning of the story. In the process, he picked up some alien blood that makes him relive the same day over and over. Cage wakes up, meets Farell, lands in France, gets killed, wakes up, meets Farell, lands in France, etc.
The "Groundhog Day" effect is in full force, but Cage learns a little more about battling the aliens with each land-die-awaken episode. Cage progresses from coward to combatant. And he has a kindred spirit, Special Forces superstar Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a hero of the alien wars who understands Cage's dilemma and wants to exploit it to defeat the enemy.
Of course, the repeated-sequences premise is ripe for movie disaster. But Liman ("The Bourne Identity") and crew pull it off with expertly efficient editing and a twist: Though we see Cage go through the same day many times, he also learns from experiences beyond what we see, which adds several mysterious turns.
Based on the novel "All You Need Is Kill" by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, "Edge of Tomorrow" embraces its time-warping weirdness with captivating results. Cruise and Blunt make for an excellent action team, and if you can forgive the title, trailer and ad campaign, you're in for an engrossing, fast-paced payoff.