It’s not summer until you’ve eaten your first ice cream sandwich and Tom Cruise has saved the planet. At 51 (but looking like a boy of 35), Cruise is battling a spidery race of aliens called Mimics in this action sci-fi blockbuster. The film’s Groundhog Day–meets–Independence Day plot is actually pretty genius: Cruise is Bill Cage, the army’s top PR guy, a total coward with a salesman’s smile. After pissing off the wrong general, Cage finds himself demoted and on the front line, where he’s killed in two minutes flat. But (and here is where it gets Groundhoggy) he wakes up in a loop, forced to fight the same battle over and over again. Each day, it takes a little bit longer to die, and Cage eventually teams up with the army’s most badass fighter, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a.k.a. Full Metal Bitch.
Doug Liman directed The Bourne Identity and goes for gun-metal realism here too, possibly at the expense of the special effects, which aren’t much to write home about anyway. As for Cruise, he’s got a winner for approximately half the film. In coward mode, it almost looks like he’s mocking the very concept of Tom Cruise, action star. He sweats and he squeaks, looking frankly petrified. Then he starts with the search-for-the-hero-inside-yourself routine and goes on to autopilot like he’s barely got a thought in his head.