Edge of Tomorrow Review
BY CODY SEYMOUR→ Watching Tom Cruise running across the screen for so many years makes it difficult to believe that he is now 52 years old. 52! The man has been the epitome of action, excitement and generally enjoyable movies for decades now. But really, how much longer can he keep it up and carry big summer blockbusters? Well it turns out he had at least more left in him as Cruise effortlessly guides Edge of Tomorrow, turning in another exceptional (but imperfect) sci-fi actioner.
Edge of Tomorrow introduces us to a pretty bleak landscape. Earth has been invaded and are losing the battle to a race of vicious beings called “Mimics”, so named for their abilities to predict their enemies next move. The Mimics are huge tentacled beasts that are wicked fast and immensely deadly. In a last-ditch effort to stop the invasion, the militaries of the world have combined their forces into the UDF. The plan is to launch a full-scale, multi-front offensive into Europe to eliminate the Mimics. Bill Cage (Cruise), is a military spin doctor, hired to shine some positive light on the bleak situation. Cage isn’t a soldier and we are quickly reminded of this when he is labelled a deserter, arrested and left at the mercy of the military. Cage is out-of-place and, frankly, a coward. He is fitted with a high-tech weaponized exoskeleton and dropped into Normandy to battle the alien forces. And he is killed.
Yes, Tom Cruise dies in the first act of his own film. But he isn’t really dead, because he immediately awakens at the beginning of the day, handcuffed and being thrown right back into military action. And then he dies again. And again. You see, Cage is stuck in a loop not unlike the one seen in Groundhog Day. Every time he dies, he awakens again at the beginning of the worst day of his life to learn from his mistakes and improve just a little every time. Cage soon meets Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a war hero who serves as a symbol for the invasion. We soon learn that Rita has also been stuck in a loop of her own before. She immediately believes Cage and here is where the story really begins to pick up. Cage and Rita, along with help from the scientist Carter, devise a plan to stop the Mimics and save the world.
And that’s really it for the story set-up. Cage and Rita get right to work, living, dying, repeating.
Director Doug Liman excels in this first act as we see Cage and Rita on the battlefield and the training rooms many, many times. We feel Cage’s frustration as he gets incrementally better with every day, but still must die to fix his mistakes. Even before we are properly introduced to Rita, the audience will get a great deal of satisfaction as Cage takes baby steps; much of his first day is spent trying to turn the safety off on his suit’s gun. It’s not often we get to see Cruise play an ineffective wimp, but for a brief period we are allowed to enjoy his many deaths. Before too long however, he is trained up by Rita and becomes the badass we know and love. The pacing of these scenes is quick; each day represents mere seconds on the screen. We get a sense of the passage of time, but we have no time to become bored.
It’s truly unfortunate that film begins to slip soon after. The first act delivers so well it really feels like a disappointment when the film slows to a halt for a time in the second. It is in this section of the film that the romantic subplot receives the most development. I won’t say that the romance was unnecessary, but the film lingers on it for far too long. It truly feels as if the writers decided the plot of film needed to stop for a moment so that they could catch up on all the romantic moments they had missed out on so far. Thankfully the pacing picks back up again, but I’m not sure that the film was able to fully recover.
As much as I enjoy Tom Cruise in just about everything, Emily Blunt really is the best part of the movie. Sure, it’s fun watching Cruise die over and over again and defy what you expect of him, but Blunt’s Rita really pulls the whole film together. As I said before, I think the romance between Rita and Cage does work and that is due in large part to Blunt’s performance. Blunt plays it much more low-key while Cruise is little more heavy-handed and obvious with his affection. I suppose that really is the personality of the character’s, but Blunt makes it work so well. She is stone cold and a total badass, but at the same time you can sense the vulnerability.
This leads to my second gripe with Edge of Tomorrow. I know that the film is Cruise’s to carry, but I feel that a real opportunity is missed with the climactic and closing moments of the film. Rather than avoiding cliché and letting Blunt be the final hero, it falls to the superstar to once again be responsible for saving the day. It’s the obvious choice, yes, but I don’t believe it was the best one. Even with this slightly lazy decision, I will continue to praise the film for its awareness. It just defies too many expectations to not get some respect.
I really did enjoy Edge of Tomorrow. It’s the perfect summer film: explosive, loud, and smart enough that I don’t feel like I lost brain cells when I left the theater. In fact, it is an exceptionally smart movie that unfortunately falls victim to some uneven pacing and poor plotting decisions in the third act. I’ll finish by saying this: I went in to Edge of Tomorrow with high expectations and I was definitely not disappointed. I don’t think you will be either.
Edge of Tomorrow