Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

EdgeOfTomorrowby Michael D. Pederson

 

Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Warner Bros. Pictures

There were a lot of reasons for me not to enjoy Edge of Tomorrow. I find Tom Cruise to be overrated, the movie underwent several script changes and didn’t have a finished script when they started shooting, and the director required several reshoots. Any one of these things could ruin a movie and all of them together sounded like a recipe for disaster. And yet…

Sometimes high concept pays off big.

If you haven’t seen the movie already, you’ve at least heard the pitch description: Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. An intriguing concept with an untold number of ways to go wrong.

However, EoT proved to be the action movie of the summer (well, pre-summer; release dates have gotten weird). Turns out, the final script revision was done by Christopher McQuarrie who contributed his usual trademark blend of suspense, action, and humor that made The Usual Suspects an instant classic.

In a nutshell… Cruise plays William Cage, a military PR expert; he’s a former ad executive that volunteered his services to avoid fighting in a war against invading aliens, known as Mimics—a coward. When he refuses to cover an invasion from the front lines he’s branded a deserter and sent into combat against aliens that have proven nearly unstoppable where he dies on his first day and (through some complicated plot trickery) gains the ability to restart the day every time he dies. On one of his early loops, he saves the life of Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a celebrated soldier who also had the looping ability until she lost it after receiving a blood transfusion. She tells Cage to find her when he wakes up. He does and they begin training, turning him into the ultimate weapon.

After the screenplay, the second thing the studio did right was casting. Cruise gives a self-aware performance that comes close to parodying his image but works brilliantly; Cruise is always at his best when he’s playing against type (see: Tropic Thunder). Blunt is hard-edged, smart, and fierce and turns an under-developed character into a memorable heroine. Bill Paxton plays the Master Sergeant for the platoon that Cage is assigned to and gives a performance that is somehow emotionally believable and over-the-top scene stealing at the same time. And Brendan Gleeson gives a very grounded performance as the General in charge of the war effort, the man who sends Cage to certain death.

The Mimic’s relentless spread across Europe, the line being held at England, and a science fiction invasion of Normandy draw clear but not invasive parallels to the Second World War, a move that further helps to ground a fairly crazy concept in an added layer of believability.

That’s not to say that the movie isn’t without it’s flaws and most of those flaws come right at the end. The movie desperately rewrites the rules on time travel that they had so carefully established early on in the film for no other reason than to give us a happy ending. That’s weak and, frankly, it compromised the sacrifices that several of the characters had made. There’s also an uncomfortable attempt at adding a romance angle at the end as well. Since Cage is the only character that has been reliving the same day, he may know Rita inside and out, but she’s only known him for a day. It’s just uncomfortable.

Edge of Tomorrow is definitely worth buying when it becomes available. More importantly, it’s a movie that makes me want to go out and read the book it was based on—All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

 

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