Edge of Tomorrow is the rare summer shoot-'em-up that understands the fragility of life. Tom Cruise plays Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage, a medaled propagandist who goes on Fox News and urges the poor to sign up and get slap-chopped to shreds in Earth's war with the Mimics, whirling space monsters that look like dreadlocked wigs dipped in steel. As he cops to his commanding officer (Brendan Gleeson), "I do this to avoid doing that."
Cruise's Cage has zero intention of joining the fight. But Gleeson's exasperated general conks him out and ships him to the front, where Cage wakes up on a pile of luggage and discovers he's been demoted to private. If you're expecting a hero, which you are, as this is Tom Cruise, you've met the wrong guy. Cage dies immediately. But then he snaps awake back on those bags and realizes he's going to relive and re-die the last 24 hours until he either wins the war or goes utterly mad from the Promethean torture.
Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), Edge of Tomorrow is a serious war movie crossbred with a Looney Tune. Humanity's hopes are pinned on reclaiming the coast of France, a fight that Liman stages with the chaotic carnage of Saving Private Ryan. However, instead of olive drabs, the soldiers are decked out in 80-pound exoskeletons.
The middle of the film is an exhausting montage of murder, the bracing opposite of all those movies whose heroes race through bullets as if they were as harmless as raindrops, but the script works better when it slows down and toys with our definition of suspense.