Combine “Starship Troopers” with “Groundhog Day” and you have a good idea of what “Edge of Tomorrow” is about.

In the near future, alien creatures called Mimics have invaded the Earth, quickly taking over and destroying much of Europe.  A United Defense Force has been created, comprising of armies of multiple nations.  Hmmm…why not just use NATO?  Anyway, the UDF has created a battle suit that looks like the robotic loaders that is in the movie “Aliens.”  With these battle suits, and a bad-ass female soldier (a very fit and toned Emily Blunt) who is an expert at killing Mimics, the UDF finally has a fighting chance against the alien invaders.

“Wait a minute,” you’re probably asking.  Isn’t Tom Cruise’s character the bad-ass, the last hope of Earthlings?  Nope, not for the first act; and that is what makes “Edge of Tomorrow” a very nice surprise for me.  This is the first Cruise movie that I’ve seen where he is a coward.  Despite being an officer in the US military and the poster child for getting others to sign up for the UDF and giving their lives to save the Earth, Cruise has no combat experience and isn’t looking get any. In fact, when pressed into the UDF service to fight on the front lines for the biggest invasion against enemy territory, Cruise runs away!  He’s not even on the battlefield, but in the UDF’s headquarters in London; and he’s running from all these military personnel as if he can actually make it all the way back to the States without getting caught!  This was one of my most memorable moments of this movie.

As you may have guessed, Cruise doesn’t get too far in his escape plans.  He is busted down to a private and sent to join a squad that will be dropped into the fight on the next day (the big invasion).  Cruise is a babe in a very nasty part of the woods, and within minutes of being dropped into the fray, he is killed.  But somehow he has attained the power to go back one day in time every time he gets killed, with a complete memory of what happened, allowing him to sidestep all the pitfalls that would kill him.

Blunt, finding out about Cruise’s power, enlists his help to try to turn the disastrous invasion into a successful one; but both find it is a very, very difficult thing to do.  Think of it as a video game that is so difficult, you can only advance a little at a time before being killed.  The part that you’ve played already is easy, but the rest of the game is unknown.

Unfortunately for Cruise, he will have to die many, many times if he wants to get it right.  But dying is painful, and he dies in many ways.  At first, Cruise’s deaths are usually funny; and the movie comes off mostly as comedic.  But as his deaths rack up, Cruise starts to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, or simply “shell shock” as it was called in the old days.  His multiple lives also has the benefit of making him a highly skilled warrior.  This is when the movie’s tone shifts to that of a serious, sci-fi story.  Movies that do these tone shifts usually come off as schizophrenic and uneven, but in this case, it works very well.

Pretty much all of the movie works very well.  I didn’t expect to like this movie as much as I did, so I hope you give it a chance; and maybe you’ll like it also.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention my most memorable, movie moment of “Edge of Tomorrow.”  That would be the scene when Cruise sees Blunt for the first time.  She’s in a training room, calmly doing some Yoga pose that shows how fit she is.  Upset that Cruise has invaded her space, she stands up and gives him a threatening stare.  This…woman…is…absolutely…stunning.   Hmm…I guess Blunt is a big reason why I like this movie so much.

— M