Edge of Tomorrow, inspired by every gamer’s attempt to beat a video game on Insane mode (I’m assuming), serves as a superior alternative to last year’s political (and drearily boring) Elysium. Both featured blockbuster stars who donned a crazy mechanical suit (although Tom’s is less painful to put on), so I was a little wary going into the theater. I’m pleased to say it was not only better than I thought, but it could very well be my favorite summer movie so far. It’s definitely more original than Tom Cruise’s other recent sci-fi Oblivion, which was interesting but felt like it borrowed an awful lot from other movies. Edge of Tomorrow could at most be compared to Groundhog Day; that is, if Bill Murray had been shooting terrifying aliens the whole time. But what makes it stand out?
First of all, it’s Tom Cruise playing against type. Yes, he plays an officer named Cage, but he’s more of a PR guy for the military who never gets close to the field. After being thrust into battle by comically unfortunate circumstances, he jumps out and…dies (whoops, spoiler alert!). He then wakes up screaming the previous day, and it’s then he realizes that the movie just gained a very interesting premise. As he replays the day, he gets better and makes progress in finding out what’s happening to him. Don’t worry, even though he relives the same day, it doesn’t get stale thanks to smart editing that conveys the events without dragging down the pace. How many different ways can one day go? Quite a bit, apparently. There are also quite a few hilarious shock moments that come from Cruise getting untimely destroyed, but we only cut back to the previous few seconds. It would be interesting to figure out just how many days his character had to live through, because he dies constantly.
So far we have a proven lead actor, solid CGI (the “Mimics” are super creepy) and a promising premise. The other key part of this success formula is named Emily Blunt. I’m a fan of her acting (and may or may not have a crush), but usually she gets stuck in sort-of-OK movies like The Adjustment Bureau or Looper (notice I haven’t reviewed either). In this film, she easily holds up her side of the movie as Rita, and makes a character believable that could have easily come across as outrageous. To top it off, she’s great with Tom Cruise. I don’t remember one scene where the chemistry or dialogue felt forced, and to be honest she had the harder acting job- she had to start from scratch each new day while still developing her character. Both her and Cruise both had the action pieces down as well, selling the tension in CGI-fueled battles. I don’t say that to indicate that the battles looked fake- again, the CGI was effective, and coupled with some tight choreography and sound effects, each battle sequence held my attention.
But there’s got to be some downers in this movie, right? Well, if I nitpick a little I could mention the reason for Cruise’s gift/curse is a little simplistic, but really it’s done so well I can’t complain. If anything, my main beef would be how unlikeable the military is for the majority of the movie, especially that half-witted General. I get that they aren’t supposed to be perfect, but if we’re supposed to be rooting for humanity, it wouldn’t have hurt to have them be a little more sympathetic.
All in all though, this is a solid action movie with surprisingly strong writing. The plot could be repetitive but it’s not, and in hindsight the day goes so many different routes it’s hard to remember the exact path the movie took. Ultimately, it’s a serious, heartfelt and somehow fun sci-fi journey through time.