Tom Cruise is surely still one of hollywood’s most bankable stars. He hasn’t hit every movie out of the park financially, but for a typical hollywood movie, he still brings in big numbers. Recently, he’s been on a tear with high concept action-type movies, and Edge of Tomorrow appears to be more of the same. Marketed as a kind of Groundhog Day meets Independence Day, I didn’t have very high hopes for what seemed like a effects heavy so-so project. I was actually surprised, and more. Hit the jump for more.
Edge Of Tomorrow is an adaptation of the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakaruzaka. Here we have Cruise playing William Cage who is a PR talking head for the army. When the possibility of him facing the front line comes up, he shows himself to be a coward. This goes even worse for Cage, who is thrust directly into battle and forced to fend for himself. Merely by luck, he kills one of the enemy “Mimics” and is placed into a time loop with every day repeating.
The mechanics of this time loop are important, and naturally very dangerous ground for any movie. Poking holes in what things stay the same, and what things can change (and, of course the effect on future events of things you changed now) would just be too easy. Yes, Cage does change things, and yes various important plot “markers” almost nonsensically keep occurring along the way to ensure we know that time is repeating. That’s ok.
Some of these things are subtle, and are played perfectly for laughs. Cruise does an amazing job of playing of the circumstances (and others) to create humor in his mannerisms and actions. One funny example is the fellow solider Kimmel who gets killed because he isn’t watching what’s around him. Cage starts off saving him, and then just kind of gives up and let’s it happen. It was such a serious, but yet funny scene all at once for me.
The nature Cruise‘s flawed character plays a significant role here. The trouble is that it’s hard to buy Cruise as a coward who might avoid combat at any cost. Cruise himself is kind of a walking billboard with a personal image going as a risk taker. Somehow you have to let Cruise‘s William Cage feel like a guy with swagger that can’t back it up, until he can. In some cases, or loops, this happens entirely too fast or coincidentally. But, hey, that’s still ok.
Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataskiis the resident bad ass of the film. She’s in incredible shape and has a clear, direct effect on how the proceedings unfold. Emily Blunt was absolutely perfect for this tough, but flawed and anti-social character. I love how she expresses internal struggles in her actions or expressions without having to blur it out. We kind of saw shades of this in Looper, but here Blunt shines as she swings her helicopter blade sword while crushing the shit out of enemy forces. She’s an important an integral part of this movie and refreshingly doesn’t rely on the man for her wins.
The bad guys, the Mimics as they’re called, are actually quite simplistic. We get a fairly basic (and good looking) piece of exposition from resident smart guy Dr. Carter that describes three kinds of bad guys. The worker Mimics that do all the fighting, the more rare Alphas that can reset the day themselves and the Omega; or the movie’s main goal or boss (if this were a video game). It’s better not to make them complicated for the sake of an audience that just needs to see menacing aliens. If they remind you of the infinitely more detailed sentinels of The Matrix Trilogy, you’re not alone.
Eventually, Edge of Tomorrow gets to a point where the time travel stops and real stakes have to exist. Once our heroes are in actual danger, they step it up in a cool assault on the big bad guy’s stronghold. The effects are amazing and feel very personal at times. I credit director Doug Liman, who knows how to make moments infinitely big, feel small and personal. This helps us relate to the hero’s journey and buy into his fear and disorientation.
I have some reservations about how all this ends, but I won’t go too much into spoiler territory with that. Needless to say, Edge of Tomorrow was astoundingly excellent until then. I felt like it made absolutely no sense, but perhaps on repeat viewing I might understand the mechanics of that better.
All told, this is a science fiction movie with humor and heart at it’s core. A wonderful and engaging story, with effects work that takes the technology of the world and places it in the background (where it belongs). This was more than a pleasant surprise for me, and one of the better movies of the summer so far. If you’ve been on the fence about seeing this one, I suggest you go and check it out.
Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. The picture opens wide June 6th, 2014.