TORONTO — Tom Cruise is back in cinemas with the explosive sci-fi flick Edge of Tomorrow, in which he plays an unwilling soldier in a battle against aliens who discovers he can reset the day simply by dying.
Based on the Hiroshi Sakurazaka novel All You Need Is Kill and directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), the movie co-stars Emily Blunt as a Special Forces soldier who trains Cruise’s character, William Cage.
Is Edge of Tomorrow going to be the season’s next blockbuster or will its soap opera-like title and polarizing leading man keep audiences away? And is it any good? Here’s a look at what some of the critics are saying.
Mark Hughes of Forbes described Edge of Tomorrow as “an exceptionally entertaining, consistently humorous, and surprisingly moving story sporting top-notch visual effects.”
Clearly, Hughes loved the movie.
“Edge of Tomorrow is great,” he gushed. “I mean really, really great.”
If that is not clear enough, he added: “I really want to stress to you, dear readers, the entertainment value and pure fun time you’ll have at this film.”
At TIME, Richard Corliss said Edge of Tomorrow is “the smartest action film of the early summer season.”
He wrote: “Only toward the climax, when the live-die-repeat cycle is abandoned, does Edge of Tomorrow go logy. But it’s two-thirds of a sensational ride — one you can ride over and over without buying additional tickets.”
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly opined it’s a “surprisingly imaginative summer action movie” that suffers from a “terribly unimaginative title.”
Nashawaty had high praise for Blunt’s performance.
“In a way, Edge of Tomorrow ends up being a deliciously subversive kind of blockbuster,” he wrote. “It’s being sold to the public as a Tom Cruise movie. But deep down, it’s the most feminist summer action flick in years.”
David Edwards of the Mirror was also fond of Blunt, though he said “it’s a pity that the makers decided to include a love interest between her character and Cage that goes nowhere and, given the stars’ 20-year age gap, is creepy rather than romantic.”
In general, Edwards liked the movie — with one exception.
“This mash-up of Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers is pretty good – the only fly in the ointment is leading man Tom Cruise.”
Jon Niccum of the Kansas City Star suggested it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Cruise or not.
If you like him, you will enjoy “his strongest action performances and easily his smartest movie of the decade” and if you dislike him, “well, think how entertaining it will be to see him killed over and over again.”
The Detroit News reviewer Tom Long recommended not taking Edge of Tomorrow too seriously.
“Edge of Tomorrow is one of those preposterous films that just guts out its ridiculous premise: Of course this is silly, it says, but isn’t it fun to watch?,” he wrote.
“And the truth is Cruise’s easy charm (somehow intact despite everything), Liman’s confident direction and Blunt’s surly sincerity combine to sell the whole thing. Is this great art? Of course not. But it’s a kick.”
At USA Today, Claudia Puig said Cruise and Blunt “have a measure of chemistry” but their characters “go underdeveloped.”
Puig called Edge of Tomorrow “an inventive mash-up with elements of [Groundhog Day], plus Inception, War of the Worlds and Independence Day.”
She wrote: “While the time-loop concept is ingenious, the repetition grows tedious and resembles a video game, but with murky rules.”
Philippa Hawker of The Sydney Morning Herald described it as “an entertaining alien invasion movie.”
“Liman handles the rhythm of repetition and transformation deftly for the most part, although the film runs out of steam a little towards the end,” Hawker opined. “The effects are well-executed, though there seems little point in seeing it in 3D: it adds virtually nothing to the experience.”
Andre Crous of Prague Post also singled out the ending of what he conceded is “a rather enjoyable futuristic action film.”
“Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t have a spectacular ending (some viewers may cringe at the clumsiness of the attempt at uncertainty), and even the climax in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, recently turned into a swampland, fails to adequately impress us,” he wrote.
Craig Marks of Ohio’s West Side Leader seemed to agree.
“It’s exciting and visually dazzling,” Marks wrote, “and even with a so-so ending gives you your money’s worth.”
But, he added, “there’s an aspect of the movie that left me cold, even if it coaxed laughs at the screening I attended.
“Cage’s day repeatedly ends with him dying violently … These deaths are played for laughs — dark, dark laughs — which I found unsettling. (And I spent my childhood watching Daffy Duck getting shot point blank by Elmer).”
Speaking of cartoons, New York Daily News critic Elizabeth Weitzman called the movie’s supporting characters “cartoonishly two-dimensional” and complained the time-loop logic doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
But, Weitzman enjoyed the effects, humour and tension of the film.
“Edge of Tomorrow has everything you could ask for in a summer blockbuster,” she wrote. “And here’s the proof: As soon as it’s done, you’ll want to go back and relive it all over again.”
At the San Jose Mercury News, Tony Hicks felt Edge of Tomorrow managed not to insult its audience intelligence.
“The script takes some refreshingly clever turns,” he wrote. “Director Doug Liman doesn’t let the plot stagnate or become overly complicated, which could easily have happened if not for his focus on action and his occasional gallows humor, as well as the natural shine of his two leads.”
© Shaw Media, 2014