Tom Cruise in the Superior “Edge Of Tomorrow”.

Cruise control.

Cruise con­trol.

Tom Cruise, in a one day to save the uni­verse, alien inva­sion, CGI sat­u­rat­ed, 3D extrav­a­gan­za block­buster. I was real­ly look­ing for­ward to stamp­ing all over this, and kick­ing it uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly about the place. But lo and behold, it’s actu­al­ly rather good.

When we first meet Cruise as William Cage, he’s nom­i­nal­ly a Major in the US army. In real­i­ty though, he’s just their spin doc­tor. A soul­less PR guru who takes great pride in his abil­i­ty to judge a book by its cov­er with­out ever hav­ing to actu­al­ly read it.

That Cruise should make his char­ac­ter so ini­tial­ly unlik­able is, as the say­ing goes, a smart move. And whilst you’re nev­er in any doubt that by the end of the film, he’ll have been trans­formed into the kind of hero that sav­ing the uni­verse demands, it’s a clever way to begin a con­ven­tion­al blockbuster.

Basi­cal­ly, the less you know about this in advance, the more you’re like­ly to enjoy it. So you should prob­a­bly try to avoid watch­ing the trail­er, as, as usu­al, prac­ti­cal­ly all of the plot is giv­en away in it.

Emily Blunt on the edge.

Emi­ly Blunt in “Edge Of Tomorrow”.

Edge Of Tomor­row is essen­tial­ly Ground­hog Day meets Juras­sic Park via Alien. But in a good way. Like all half decent sci­ence fic­tion, it is less con­cerned with the future than it is with the present. And Einstein’s famous line, that while he didn’t know about world war 3, but world war 4 would be fought with sticks and stones very much hangs over the film. So most of its bat­tle sequences take place on Nor­mandy Beach, so piv­otal in the 2nd WW, and Emi­ly Blunt plays the hero­ic Angel of Ver­dun, a key bat­tle in the 1st.

Blunt by the way, who is every bit as impres­sive as her illus­tri­ous co-star, told the Dai­ly Tele­graph in 2005 that she’d rather spend her life doing poor­ly paid the­atre than end up play­ing a spear car­ri­er oppo­site Tom Cruise! Ah, God bless the Internet.

This is a sur­pris­ing­ly smart, con­sis­tent­ly thrilling ride. It’s a long way from being in any way ter­ri­bly mem­o­rable, nev­er mind good. But com­pared to the kind of brain­less dross peo­pled by one dimen­sion­al card­board cut-outs that pass­es for most con­ven­tion­al block­busters, this is pos­i­tive­ly a breath of fresh air. And there are a cou­ple of nice touch­es too.

Brendan Gleeson.

Bren­dan Gleeson.

At one point, Bren­dan Glee­son has the line “Russ­ian and Chi­nese troops are mak­ing their way across Europe, unop­posed.” The joke is, he says it not in fear, but with huge relief! Though quite how the joke will play if you’re watch­ing the film in, say Ukraine, or Poland I’m not so sure.

The whole thing hinges on a) how seri­ous­ly its stars are pre­pared to take a sto­ry like this. After all, if nobody on screen treats the threat as cred­i­ble, why should we? And b) whether or not there’s any on-screen chem­istry between the two leads. Hap­pi­ly, Cruise and Blunt deliv­er on both counts. And the direc­tor Doug Liman pro­vides the sort of ener­gy that gave the Bourne films such vital­i­ty, direct­ing the first, and pro­duc­ing two and three.

Not a mas­ter­piece then by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. But a decid­ed­ly supe­ri­or way to enjoy an over­sized bag of popcorn.

You can see the trail­er (if you insist) here.

This review also appears on here, which you should read almost as avid­ly as you do this.

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