‘Groundhog Day’ meets ‘The Longest Day’ in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know this has a ring of “Groundhog Day” meets the World War II epic “The Longest Day,” only this French shore invasion is aimed at turning the tide against space aliens on the verge of taking over the Earth. So it’s kind of a big deal.

Tom Cruise starts out as United States war correspondent Maj. William Cage, but is quickly demoted to private after attempting to blackmail a British general.

Cage has no interest in embedding with the first invasion wave since he has no combat skills and no interest in death, but after his little stunt, he wakes up handcuffed on a pile of duffle bags on a military base, with sergeants yelling in his confused face.

This won’t be the last time we see him here, since this is the starting-off point of each repeating day, much like Bill Murray waking up each frozen morning to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” 

So just how does Cage end up in this bizarre time loop?

On his first day, he is deployed with J Squad over a chaotic battlefield where the creature invaders, that look like hybrids of the angry spirits from “Ghost” and giant spear-tentacled sea urchins (very bad dudes), have the upper hand and are not in the least surprised by the secret human retaliation strike. Oops.

Who tipped them off? How did they know we were coming?

It seems the aliens have a way of restarting time if one of their “alphas” (large blue leader critters) gets taken out. Cage inadvertently kills one, gets some alpha blood on or in him (gross) in the process of his own death — and presto — rinse and repeat.   

So after a few of these cycles, Cage is starting to catch on, but has no idea how to make the loop stop or prevent himself from being splattered all over the beach every single day, until he meets war hero Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), also known as the Angel of Verdun, who knows exactly what Cage is going through, because she’s been there, done that, but can’t do it anymore. Why? You’ll see.

Together they devise a plan to try and locate the central hive brain, known as the “Omega,” and if they find it, destroy it.

Simple enough, but now they have to find the darn thing and start over each time they get it wrong, and they will, many, many times. The key here is that if they don’t succeed, Cage HAS to die at the end of each attempt in order for the recycling scenario to work.  

I know it doesn’t sound funny, but Rita has to take out Cage on many occasions, just because of a misstep or a broken leg or whatever. It’s the ultimate, darkly comedic do-over.

But I will say this, you’d think the pete-and-repeat scenario would get tiresome, but the director cleverly catches us up in brief snippets, so we don’t have to see the same thing over and over again, unless a new element is revealed for the characters.

Cruise and Blunt are fantastic in this action-filled, sci-fi adventure, with equally notable turns by Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson.  

Cruise may still be in some moviegoers’ doghouse, but you must admit, he is adept at picking interesting roles that are self-deprecating as he tries to win you back. This one just might do it.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is both fun and exhilarating.

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