“Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow” is Solid Thriller

image A confusing title, the presence of the recently hit-or-miss Tom Cruise and a dark-looking paramilitary milieu are disguising what is actually one of the most clever films of the year, Doug Liman’s Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (B). After a bit of a slow start in introducing a future in which warfare is being waged on the European front against squid-like aliens, the story injects a potent mixology of “mimic biology” and game mechanics to allow its reluctant hero to relentlessly reset his days to achieve victory over the earth’s invaders, even if it means dying again and again. Instead of playing his traditional alpha male role, Cruise gets to evolve into his heroism, and he does so with some deft comedy and bright, self-effacing acting choices. Emily Blunt is a fierce presence as the military might of the adventure and makes a sly foil and muse to Cruise. Video game players will relate to the idea of maneuvering scenarios until sequencing a path to success; and fans of the old choose-your-own-adventure books will relish the alternate realities afforded by the film’s central conceit. It’s a smart, action-packed spectacle; and while not as precise or enticing as an Inception, it holds its own in the category of sci-fi mind-benders.