Tom Cruise gets a bad rap for all sorts of extracurricular reasons, but let there be no mistaking this: The man is the most committed movie star around.
He might not be the best actor with a diverse range of award-winning method performances, but no one does a better job of expressing a desire to entertain you.
That's why he's endured as a major international box office draw for so long and, frankly, it's a major reason why Doug Liman's ambitious sci-fi mindbender "Edge of Tomorrow" works as well as it does.
The picture is a big and expensive summer entertainment that's practically a throwback in that it isn't a sequel or a reboot. It co-opts the "Groundhog Day" time loop premise to tell the story of futuristic military officer William Cage (Cruise) who re-lives the same day over and over again and must find his way out of the morass. The day ends in his painful, violent death during a beach invasion against an enormous alien force, of course, so solving the mystery becomes extra urgent.
It's an understatement to note that this is complicated material. The same sequences are re-worked time and again with subtle tweaks that carry the burden of advancing the plot.
There are huge, frenetic battles that have the feel of gritty combat and the strong sense of an enormous military apparatus brought to life. The movie is set in a future on the verge of an apocalypse, a feeling Liman communicates well amid the machinery. This is original, big-budget filmmaking; a rare breed.
The ace in the hole is Cruise, of course, the king of the blockbusters, who is as charismatic and engaging as ever. Long may he reign.