Doug Liman’s new movie Edge Of Tomorrow proves that despite the doomsday predictions of his detractors, time is always on Tom Cruise’s side. The object of avoidable ridicule and the unavoidable effects of ageing in recent years is nothing but unputdownable, which is just what he needs to be in this heavily weaponized version of Groundhog Day. The futuristic scenario forces Cruise’s Cage, like Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in Source Code, to live the same day over and over again until he can figure out a way to break the cycle and achieve the purpose for which actor and character were put on the planet—to save it.

Until Cruise gets into familiar mode, his Cage is often the comic target of contempt and ridicule—one of many self-reflexive moments in a knowing screenplay that is as much an adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s science fiction Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill as it is a breezy commentary on cinema’s ability to play with the notion of time. Many years into the future, a pan-national defence force guards the planet from fast-moving, insect-like creatures called mimics, who hold the upper hand despite humankind’s progress in developing highly sophisticated body armour. Forcibly recruited into one such unit, the likeable Cage finds that unlike the other soldiers, who are condemned to serve themselves up over and over again as cannon fodder for the enemy, he can remember the previous day’s events. So can the lovely Emily Blunt’s Rita, a rallying force for the battle who appears on We Want You-style recruitment posters, and who holds the key to Cage’s predicament.

There is some gobbledegook about alphas and an omega, but between the beginning and the end, there are many smart ideas here about the wearying monotony of war, the false packaging of combat as a necessity (represented by Bill Paxton’s weaselly captain) and the importance of conscientious objectors. However, like most war-themed films that call for peace while deploying advanced computer-generated effects and rapid-fire action to create sequences of massive ruin, Edge Of Tomorrow wears its anti-war message lightly. It’s a pity that nothing more is made of the climactic spectacle of destruction set at the Louvre Palace in Paris, a monument to the artistic wonders of the past. By the time Cage and company reach there, the eye has been taken off the stopwatch and the imperatives of justifying the conversions into 3D and IMAX formats have started ticking. The 113-minute movie suffers as a consequence, but not too badly.

Edge Of Tomorrow opens on Friday. Paid previews start in select multiplexes today.

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