It happens every summer. In some strange, mutinous, bovine migration writ large across America, moviegoers chase away the icy anguish of winter and usher in the sun-dappled, hazy days of summer by happily watching as the world goes and gets itself destroyed. Yes, there is really no better way to celebrate the symbolical renaissance of a year than to sit in a darkened theater as the globe gets pretty well pummeled by a bevy of baddies, preferably with cacophonous sound effects and Jennifer Lawrence.

 

Perhaps this conspicuous consumption of fantastical destruction is the collective manifestation of some deep-rooted sense of childlike rebellion against structure and conformity, a joyfully anarchic “take that!” to school and work and responsibility and good taste. Perhaps it is a grandiose political statement that has the added bonus of not requiring much effort at all other than to sit still and not spill one’s beverage into the unsuspecting lap of one’s captivated neighbor. Perhaps your correspondent should stop being such a pretentious killjoy and get around to talking about Tom Cruise and aliens.

 

Given our voracious appetite to see our world endangered, “Edge of Tomorrow “is a tasty little entrée in the summer film menu. Directed by Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”), “Edge of Tomorrow” is a rollicking tale of undaunted human courage in the face of overwhelming odds. The problem is, it’s a rollicking tale of undaunted human courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

 

Bear with me a moment. The salient plot details are thus: Our luminous, luscious planet has been rudely invaded by a hostile alien force with dreadlocks, and they have overrun most of Europe. Our hero, Cruise, is a military marketer, a slick salesman of an officer with a thousand-watt smile and the spine of an invertebrate who drums up morale and money while putting serious mileage between himself and the front lines. Brendan Gleeson’s dour commanding general inexplicably decides to drop Cruise in a raging maelstrom of a conflict on a French beach (shades of, well, figure it out yourself).

 

Cruise dies. Cruise wakes up. Cruise dies again. Cruise wakes up again. Repeat.

 

The long and short of it is, Cruise’s bumbling, reluctant soldier is stuck in some sort of time loop a la Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters” (just kidding, “Lost In Translation”). Over the course of the movie, he must team with a gorgeous woman (Emily Blunt, who is a certifiable badass and totally not buying into gender stereotypes for summer blockbusters, while being gorgeous) to learn the ways of the enemy and save the world.

 

“Edge Of Tomorrow” is everything the critics are saying it is: smart, sexy, funny, and jammed full of good-looking action sequences. Cruise gives a nice performance by looking like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, perhaps for the first time in his career. All in all, “Edge” manages to entertain, engage, and more or less justify its existence, which is more than can be said for every Michael Bay movie ever.

 

Here’s the rub, dear reader and fellow summer consumer of all things apocalyptic. “Edge of Tomorrow” is exactly what you are expecting it to be, nothing more, nothing less. It leaves no lasting impression. It is safe, sugary, and completely unremarkable.

 

Perhaps that is in itself deserving of accolades, embedded as the film is among such inane tripe as “Blended” and “A Million Ways To Die In The West.” In the end, though, there are better ways to spend your precious summer hours. Pop in “2001: A Space Odyssey” and dare yourself not to be dazzled by the trippy, haunting finale. Re-visit “Magnolia” and see how good Tom Cruise can be when he’s not busy being “50 Shades” of Tom Cruise. Watch “Synecdoche, New York” and tell your correspondent what on earth that was all about. At the very least, go see the new “Transformers” flick and throw eggs at the screen. Life is too short to not hate Michael Bay with a passion.

 

Have you seen “Edge Of Tomorrow”? What did you think? Do you count yourself a summer action movie fan, or do you crave more substantial fare? Are you a fellow hater of all things Michael Bay? Start the discussion in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @aa_murph