Edge of Tomorrow Review
Man, I love the summer movie season, I know I have said that before, but damn do I love the summer movie season. Most of all, I love it when we are constantly bombarded by film brand after film brand, summer after summer, but there is still room left for surprise. With all the superheroes, fairy tales, and reboots that are constantly being thrown at us, it can sometimes be hard to remember what it feels like to be wowed. It can sometimes be hard to remember that spark of genius captured on film. I have heard people say that we live in a world be over-saturated by genre fare and they are not wrong. But I still firmly believe that the spark of originality in this hot summer season is still alive and well. “Edge of Tomorrow” proves this.
“Edge of Tomorrow” is a high-concept summer movie. It feels like pieces of other movies thrown into a blender, because that is exactly what it is. There is some “Groundhog Day,” some “Pacific Rim,” some “Battle: Los Angeles,” some “Source Code” and even a little “Saving Private Ryan” for good measure. With so many influences in this pot, I am amazed by how much of it felt original and felt like something I had not seen before. “Edge of Tomorrow” is engrossing entertainment; it features everything you could possibly want from a summer blockbuster. There is tons of action, great one-liners, great humor, beautiful women (and men if you like that sort of thing.), a pinch of romance but not enough that it is sappy and some great music to top it all off. Best yet, there are tons of big twists and turns laced within the entire film, which made that much better. Never once does the film try to cheat the audience or pull some story thread out of the air for convenience. Everything is well-told and well-made, and for a film not based on some other story, that is a big deal.
“Edge of Tomorrow” begins in a similar vein to “Battle: Los Angeles,” there are frantic news reports about an invasion by creatures from another world. We learn that they have conquered Europe and everything feels very bleak. But after 5 years of warfare, the Earthlings win their first victory thanks to Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) and her use of a mechanized exoskeleton technology. Because of the exoskeletons success, the armies of the world are strapping every solider with one of their own. The marketing and discussion of this weapon has been led by Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) and he believes victory against the Mimics (as the aliens are referred to as) will be imminent.
Although Cage is in the army, he has never been in combat. So when the British want them to help lead the charge into France, he is hesitant. When he learns an underlying sinister truth about the reason for his involvement, he tries to flee, only to be knocked out. When he wakes up, he is a private and he nearly ready to be shipped to the beaches of France to fight off the Mimics. Cage dies, but he discovers that he immediately appears back to the morning before the invasion, as if everything that transpired before was a dream. Every time he dies, he goes back to the same morning. It does not take long for Rita and Cage to notice each other, and Rita makes it clear that she knows what is going on with Cage. So they ally up to take down the Mimics once and for all.
Of course, that isn't the whole story. But what fun would it be to spoil it all for you.
What makes “Edge of Tomorrow” work is Tom Cruise. I remember last summer writing a detailed piece about the death of the Movie Star Vehicle. Still to this day, I feel that if your movie isn’t based on a popular superhero or fairy tale or isn't based of a top-selling trilogy of books or if it isn’t remake of something that was popular in yesteryear, your film won’t sell. The use of A-list stars doesn’t seem to quite the same impact as it used to. Well, it seems Tom Cruise is determined to prove us wrong. Say what you will about the man and his personal life, but constantly sells everything he makes. His charismatic charm is undeniable in this movie and he creates a believable action hero. I like that his character never really feels like Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise (except for a couple parts), and that he feels like a real character most of the film. I have been a fan of Emily Blunt for a long, long time and she does not disappoint here. She is able to successfully pass herself off as an intimidating badass, and she looks great doing it too.
The film also features Brandon Gleeson and Bill Paxton. Gleeson and Cruise previously worked together on “Mission Impossible II” back in 2000, but their chemistry is much better this time due to actually playing characters this time. I have always been a big fan of Bill Paxton, and his turn on ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” really raised his stock in my book. I love that he is still somewhat channeling his character from that show, but also creating somebody different. Both Gleeson and Paxton display wonderful effort.
The special effects on the aliens are magnificent and the action scenes are priceless. I have a deep suspicion that the crowds will be jumping and hollering in their seats during several of the action sequences in the film. I love that the aliens in this film kind of feel like aliens we haven’t seen before. No walking penises with big heads, no octopus men, no multi-tentacle monsters. These aliens have a fresh look to them, something that looks like nothing I have seen before. I like that a lot about the film.
If the only thing I can really say that is bad about the film is the constant use of going back in time, then I think that is quite good. Yes, “Edge of Tomorrow” is very much a science fiction “Groundhog Day.” But I remember never getting impatient with “Groundhog Day,” and I think I slightly did with “Edge of Tomorrow ” Sometimes I felt the day would reset simply to make a lame joke, and that got dry after awhile. Still I was so enthralled by everything else that I didn't care and I don’t think you will either.
I really hope people are as surprised as I am by this one. I hope everybody gets a chance to get out to the theater and support this movie. For not being based on something popular, this will be a hard sell. But no matter what, I love this movie. It’s a perfect way to heat up the summer season and it’s a great outing for Tom Cruise.
FINAL GRADE: A