Moviegoers are used to seeing Tom Cruise save the day — usually on the first try. But in the new sci-fi action film "Edge of Tomorrow," directed by Doug Liman and co-starring Emily Blunt, Cruise needs more than a few attempts to foil an alien invasion. Luckily, he's stuck in a "Groundhog Day"-like time loop that allows him to try, try again.
The result, according to reviews, feels familiar and is (naturally) repetitive, but it's also action-packed fun that slyly sends up Cruise's heroic screen persona.
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips calls "Edge of Tomorrow" both "insanely derivative" and "frenetically enjoyable." Liman, he adds, "has engineered exactly what Cruise's character refers to in the prologue: a 'large mechanized invasion,' with a 3-D up-charge. I'm not sure 'Edge of Tomorrow' holds much repeat viewing potential among teenage movie consumers, since the movie's a self-repeating entity to begin with. But once is fun."
USA Today's Claudia Puig says the movie is "an inventive mash-up" that benefits from Blunt being on board as Cruise's "action-hero equal." The two leads "have a measure of chemistry, however their characters go undeveloped, given short shrift amid the spectacle," Puig continues. "But the pulse-pounding action scenes are briskly directed," and the "unrelenting spin cycle is leavened with humor."
Jake Coyle of the Associated Press says the movie puts Cruise's action-star persona "into a phantasmagorical blender. … Dying again and again, Cruise has rarely been so likable." The film "entertains in its narrative playfulness," like fellow sci-fi puzzlers "Inception" and "Looper." And though "zippiness does fade in the second half," Coyle says, "among countless sequels and remakes, the high-concept 'Edge of Tomorrow' — both a Tom Cruise celebration and parody — is the right kind of a rerun."
The Wrap's Alonso Duralde also finds the film derivative — "viewers will pick out plot elements from 'Groundhog Day,' 'Starship Troopers,' 'Source Code,' and 'The Butterfly Effect'" — but says that "for a film about repetition, 'Edge of Tomorrow' never feels tired or familiar." Ultimately, Duralde writes, the film "feels sharper and more clever than it might have been in other hands, and for a big summer star vehicle, that's surprise enough."
L.A. Weekly's Amy Nicholson calls "Edge" "a classic war movie crossbred with a Looney Tune." She adds, "The Wile E. Coyote fatalities are fun, but it's that repetitive moment of horror that holds this bipolar stunt together: Cruise, bug-eyed and gasping for breath, as he shakes off his fear and grimly prepares for the next suicide mission."
Although "'Edge of Tomorrow' carries itself like a groundbreaking blockbuster," Nicholson says, it's also "the rare summer shoot-'em-up that understands the fragility of life."
Among the few negative reviews, Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter writes, "Picking yourself up to fight another day might work for the characters, but battle fatigue eventually sets in for viewers as Doug Liman's film keeps folding back on itself time and time again." And after the tedium, McCarthy says, "the final stretch becomes dramatically unconvincing and visually murky."