Major Bill Cage is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously demoted and dropped into combat. Cage is killed within minutes, managing to take an alpha alien down with him. He awakens back at the beginning of the same day and is forced to fight and die again... and again - as physical contact with the alien has thrown him into a time loop.
The idea of a time loop, whereby someone is doomed to repeat an identical day of events time and time again, is not an original one. Perhaps most famously used in “Groundhog Day” (1993) it was first used in the film La Jetee (1962) and arguably in “Turn Back the Clock” (1933). In “Edge of Tomorrow” central Europe as been invaded by aliens and there is an all out war going on against them which has not been going well. Finally a battle at Verdun seems to turn the tide, and with the emergence of a military hero Rita in the battle (Emily Blunt) it seems as if the human race has the chance, with new body armour technology, to launch an invasion and win the war.
Media liaison office Cage (Tom Cruise) is a reluctant recruit to the invasion after falling out with the commander of the multi-national human forces General Brighham (Brendan Gleeson). However, the landing on the beach does not go well and something very strange happens when Cage manages to kill an alien creature not encountered before and becomes infected with its blood. It transpires that the aliens have the ability to see into the future and reset it if events go against them. Cage, due to his encounter, is now trapped in a repeating time loop where he must figure out how to disrupt the sequence of events that are unfolding in front of him, again and again. This turns out to be a very complex task indeed, and with the help of Rita he has to try and literally turn back time.
Edge of Tomorrow is a high voltage action film but with an unusual plot twist. There is plenty of CGI alien action and battle scenes, but the key is whether Cage and Rita can somehow break the time loop, so the film keeps momentum as we see how Cage learns from each repeating experience sequence and gradually makes faltering progress towards his goal. There are enough plot twists to keep things interesting, and enough convincing action scenes to avoid the film over-intellectualising. I also like that Cruise is cast against type, a cowardly PR man rather than a born action hero, even though Emily Blunt is a little one-dimensional in her tough-as-nails role.
This may not be the best science fiction film made in 2014 (Interstellar, despite its flaws, would surely win that title, and the flawed but intriguing “Under the Skin” is more memorable), but Edge of Tomorrow delivers an entertaining evening out.