Such astonishment is easy to understand. Since the Scientology bothering superstar's sofa jumping meltdown, the Cruiser's career has been on a steady downwards slide of franchise sequels and middling genre efforts.
At first glance, the Edge Of Tomorrow (2014) appears to be another unappetising entry in the recent Cruise canon, with familiar ingredients from Groundhog Day, Source Code, Starship Troopers and War of the Worlds reheated like some kind of cinematic casserole. But what should have been an indigestible dogs’ breakfast, turns out to be a surprisingly tasty sci-fi action thriller.
Tiny Tom plays Major William Cage, a media spokes-officer for the military who are fighting a war against alien invaders who have taken over much of Europe (true to form, perennial surrender-monkeys France are one of the first nations to fall). Leading the fight-back are General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) - who is planning to defeat the aliens by launching a D-Day style landing on the continent - and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) a super-soldier whose battlefield heroics have made her the war’s poster-girl.
But this isn't the battle-comfy Cruise character we've seen in the past. The smooth-tongued media man prefers to enjoy a war - as any sensible General does - as far away from actual combat as possible.
Unfortunately for him, Gleeson has other ideas and sends the cowardly Cruise kicking-and-screaming to the front line on the eve of invasion (for an idea think Blackadder’s General Melchett sunnily despatching Captain Darling to the trenches). Cruise is quickly fried alive in the Somme-esque disaster, but gains the ability to replay the same day with each subsequent death - a skill he must use to save the world.
|The Cruiser: as surprised as anyone|
that critics liked his new movie
Cruise suggests to Blunt that it would be a great idea for them to kick back, enjoy some wine, and see where the evening takes them, rather than flying the chopper to the certain death he's seen on past attempts. Blunt weighs this up, and then considers certain death by chopper crash preferable to a sweaty triste with our perma-grinning friend.
The chopper has barely lifted off the ground before it swoops into the garage. The only thing missing is a smug Cruise standing over the wreckage, arms crossed, head shaking, uttering the line 'what did I just tell you?'
In truth, it's a pathetic crash. Cruise's character knows it's coming, we know it's coming, and when it does arrive we are denied a large explosion in favour of several small fires. Mercifully we only see this sequence once in the film, despite Cruise's character telling us he's experienced it multiple times.
Do passengers survive?
|Emily Blunt chooses death by exploding helicopter|
over sex with Tom Cruise
For anyone that's been annoyed by the recent crop of Cruise films, or for anyone that just wants to slap the perennially perky Cruise in the face, the Edge Of Tomorrow provides a rare treat. Large sections of the film resemble Sean Bean's legendary 'death reel' allowing schadenfreude fans to revel in the sight of Cruise being sliced, crushed, shot, squashed and toasted innumerable times.
There's also one marvellous moment where after tiring of another failed attempt at saving the world Top Gun Tom decides 'oh fuck it, I'm off to the pub' where he boozes it up with the locals.
For a film that's stolen elements from so many different films, Director Doug Liman (of Bourne Identity fame) does an admirable job in making the end result surprisingly intelligent and enjoyable. Cruise's transformation from battle-shy weasel to inadvertent soldier just about works, while Blunt is at her best when coldly opting to take the option to reset the day into her own hands.
However, the ending does seem somewhat implausible. Cruise is able to use his knowledge of the future to convince a group of soldiers that don't know him to go on a suicide mission to Paris, yet at no point can convince anyone in the military command that they need to change their battle plans. The Deus Ex Machina at the end unravels the minute you prod at it.
Major William Cage, on hearing his assignment into the battlefield: "While it is an honour General, I am afraid I'm going to have to decline. I can't stand the sight of blood, not so much as a papercut."
The film was released during the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War 2.
Review by: Joe