Last week Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman explained its appeal to London journos, who had been shown a teaser reel of the Warner Bros. sci-fi thriller, to wit: “If you love Tom Cruise, you see him giving a genius performance, and if you hate Tom Cruise he dies like 200 times [in this thing]. Here, he is a total coward. The amount of times he squeals in this movie — he’s an amazing squealer! Other movie stars would have been more hesitant about being that vulnerable.”

Of course Cruise is “that vulnerable.” Joel Goodson is now 51 years old (52 on 7.3.14). He looks healthy and is obviously in great shape, but the fact that he more or less looks his age means he can now use that faintly haggard, vaguely weathered look to his acting advantage. If they last long enough, all good-looking actors are in a kind of golden period when they hit their late 40s and 50s. The natural expressiveness that comes with being older (and having acquired a few scars, bruises and regrets along the way) deepens their game.

If they were to remake The Firm (which came out 20 years ago) Cruise could now play Gene Hackman‘s role, the spry but corrupt mafia attorney with a weakness for the ladies. Cruise is roughly where Burt Lancaster was when he was on his last lap as an action star in his early to mid 50s, making The Train and The Professionals and The Scalphunters.

The Guardian‘s Ben Child wrote last Friday that Liman’s film is essentially “Groundhog Day with stringy, spaghetti-like aliens and Tom Cruise,” and that Emily Blunt more or less has the Andie McDowell role, albeit in a militaristic, weaponed-up, heavily-armored mode.

The film, opening domestically on 6.6.14, is actually based on a 2004 Japanese “light” novel (i.e., a wordier-than-usual comic book) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, called “All You Need Is Kill.” But of course, that was ten years after Groundhog Day so do the inspirational math.

Cruise plays a Lieutenant Colonel who “slowly builds himself into the most spectacularly badass special-forces grunt, capable of taking on the alien threat almost singlehandedly, through experiencing the same battle over and over again,” writes Child. “Along the way he meets Blunt’s heroic veteran Rita Vrataski, a poster girl for Earth’s defenders and a woman who understands his predicament like no other” blah blah.

Wait…how do you get to be a Lieutenant Colonel if you’re a “total coward” and “an amazing squealer”? Wouldn’t the military notice that Cruise’s character is a little light in the loafers combat-wise, and nudge him toward a desk job of some kind?