Have you been waiting for a World War II movie starring Tom Cruise as a time traveler saving Earth from space aliens? If so, you're in luck, because "Edge of Tomorrow" fits the bill and even throws in Emily Blunt as Joan of Arc.
The rest of us will be mystified by this big-screen adaptation of the Japanese novel "All You Need Is Kill." It's a dazzlingly directed and often intense blockbuster, bolstered by the dependably committed Cruise, still a terrific action figure at 51. But "Edge of Tomorrow" is also thematically garbled, poorly plotted and almost totally incoherent.
A few salient plot points might help. While Earth's United Defense Front battles the Mimics -- giant spider-squids that move with lightning speed -- General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders Army spokesman William Cage (Cruise) to the front. Under the command of Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) and strapped into an exosuit, Cage is killed -- but wakes to live and learn once more. Gradually, like a young Pac-Man prodigy, he memorizes the precise pattern to survive.
He also learns that the famous soldier Rita Vrataski (Blunt, tricked out with breastplate and sword) understands what's happening. Together, they -- and a squad of lovable losers -- must solve the puzzle and stop the Mimics.
None of this explains why the movie is set on the beach at Verdun, or why Cage plots to destroy a German dam, or why an Army publicist would be reduced to cannon fodder in the first place. The thrilling direction by Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") and the occasionally witty script (co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, of "The Usual Suspects") may keep you so entertained that you won't care.
For the moment, at least. But eventually, the movie spins out of control and crashes into an illogical heap. It's fun for a while, but "Edge of Tomorrow" is what the GIs used to call a blivet -- 10 pounds of movie in a five-pound bag.
PLOT To win a war against an alien species, one human soldier must relive the day he dies.
CAST Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson
RATING PG-13 (violence, language)
BOTTOM LINE Intense action, dull characters, stellar effects and sloppy logic make for one maddening mix. Mostly entertaining, finally exasperating.