Set in the near future when a brutal, seemingly invincible, hive-like alien race, known as the Mimics, is invading Earth, this action-packed sci-fi thriller stars Tom Cruise as U.S. Army Maj. William Cage, who handles military public relations for the United Defense Force.

Terrified and totally inexperienced in combat, he's dispatched from London by Gen. Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) to the front lines on Normandy Beach in France, where he's killed immediately. Inexplicably, he's then thrown into a confusing yet continual time loop, where Master Sgt. Farrell (Bill Paxton) forces him to relive the harrowing bloodbath again and again. It's "Live. Die. Repeat." Like "Groundhog Day" on the battlefield.

Yet, with each enemy encounter, Cage becomes more skilled, teaming up with a super soldier, Special Forces Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), known as the Angel of Verdun.

Unlike his usual heroic roles ("Mission Impossible," "Jack Reacher," "Oblivion"), Cruise's Cage starts out as a cocky, inept, cowardly underdog who discovers he cannot talk his way out of this fight. Enlisting experienced, if merciless Vrataski, a.k.a. the Full Metal Bitch, as an unlikely ally, and overcoming his initial frustration, Cage gradually realizes that as they change tactics, they're gaining advantages along the way. Their objective: the destruction of the aliens' brain device called the Omega, which is hidden somewhere in war-ravaged Paris.

Cleverly scripted as a character-driven, mind-bending mystery by Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects," "Jack Reacher") and Jez and Jon-Henry Butterworth ("Fair Game"), based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka's 2004 novel "All You Need is Kill," it's adroitly directed by Doug Limon ("The Bourne Identity," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith") and edited by James Herbert, so that Cruise's sniveling Cage subtly undergoes a compelling arc, punctuated by slyly self-deprecating humor. Credit production designer Oliver Scholl and costumer Kate Hawley for the battle fatigues and bulky exoskeleton armor, built by Pierre Bohanna -- and visual effects supervisor Nick Davis for the multi-tentacled CGI extraterrestrials.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Edge of Tomorrow" is an exhilarating, intriguingly effective 8, delving into an eternal recurrence.