Here’s what’s surprising about this movie: it’s kind of fun in a goofy, self-deprecating way. Emily Blunt is all wide-eyed, incredulous and confident and she makes Tom Cruise more likeable and human; together they make a good pair. I’d like to see them in a bona-fide comedy; Cruise needs to do something other than science fiction for a change – and he needs a hit. But at least his character is somewhat different in this one; where normally he plays a macho, self-assured team leader, here he’s a scared, inexperienced coward caught in a story that is complex and, at times, confusing – but ultimately clever and with characters who have good chemistry with each other.
And yet, what makes this movie work is Emily Blunt’s performance as a strong and capable woman. She explains the story, she helps train Cruise, she’s willing to step back or to step forward as the situations demand. This is a kind of “Groundhog Day” meets “Independence Day” and while it has some of the loopiness (literally) from the former, and the chaos from the latter, it really is its own movie, a unique piece of entertainment. The director, Doug Limon (“The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) knows how to direct action and keep a plot moving and he does that here. He’s created a sci-fi movie worth sticking with, trying to figure out, and enjoying.