"Edge of Tomorrow"

Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise star in the sci-fi thriller “Edge of Tomorrow.”

I saw the Equal Pay Act of 1963 hit its 50th anniversary Tuesday. It requires that men and women be paid equally for doing equal work.

Let me go ahead and say that’s still an #epicfail for the country, but one Hollywood film might have taken one step closer in evening things out.

“Edge of Tomorrow,” starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, is smart, fun and doing more to equalize the battle of the sexes than most action films.

Aliens have invaded, and Cruise plays Maj. William Cage, a military PR man who is completely smarmy and sleazy. He schmoozes TV anchors to convince the public they need to join the fighting forces of the world. His only true talent is using his mouth. As a soldier, he’s ridiculously inept.

Blunt, on the other hand, is as badass as they come. Her character, Rita, is the face of the military because she’s just that hardcore and ruthless. In battle, she decimates the enemy and takes no prisoners. In fact, she’s known as “full metal bitch,” due to the weaponized exoskeleton she uses in combat.

Flash forward, and Cage has been drafted. An encounter with an alpha male of the alien species sends our fearful “hero” into a time loop. He meets Rita, who realizes what’s happened to him and tells him to find her when he wakes up. They both die, and the story continues as the day begins again.

I could go into more plot details in this sci-fi version of “Groundhog Day,” but that’s not the important part here. “Edge of Tomorrow” is a well-crafted film that audiences simply aren’t going to see.

Cruise shines in this role. He showcases not only his starpower as an action star but the added comedic timing, smartassery and winning smile that made him a household name in the first place. Cage isn’t a character we’re supposed to like from the beginning, but we grow to.

Add in Blunt, who is slowly making a name for herself in Hollywood, and this film should have had two leads that would bring in audiences. Throw in the fact that a female is the real action hero here, and I’m a little sold already.

As the film progresses, Rita trains Cage to become a fighting machine. She’s no damsel in distress and has little tolerance for his whining or injuries, putting him down like a lame horse in order to start the day anew and healthy.

It’s not a perfect film, but then few are. There are some judgement calls that leave me frustrated, especially one in particular. As the relationship between Cage and Rita grows, it feels like writers are trying to make the characters get a little twitterpated with each other. The relationship is primarily work, with an end goal of killing the big bad. But, what’s a movie without a romance, even if the romance is forced and a ridiculous add-on.

Heads-up Hollywood, women don’t need romance to make us go see a movie, nor do we need you trying to turn our hard-nosed heroine into a starry-eyed dope. They don’t take it far, but there’s definitely a gradual shift as Cage becomes something more in Rita’s eyes, both in terms of military experience and as a human being, period.

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton serve as the perfect foils to Cruise’s cageyness in small but integral parts. That’s part of the beauty of this film. Each character and each moment seem to serve a purpose.

The film is being called a blockbuster “bomb.” The reasons have been blamed on poor marketing, Cruise’s age and even the fact that sci-fi films just don’t do well as standalone entities in theaters. Whatever the reason, those who sit at home instead of seeing the film are missing out.

“Edge of Tomorrow” might not be the best film of the year, but it’s a roller coaster of thrills and worth seeing. It’s clever, fun and action-packed. What more does a summer blockbuster need?

Amanda Greever is the assistant managing editor of The Daily Times; she’ll also be contributing film reviews on a regular basis for Weekend. Contact her at amanda.greever@thedailytimes.com, follow her on Twitter @agreever_editor and “Like” Weekend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dailytimesweekend.

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