Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Tom Cruise has always been an actor with great action chops. Whether he’s playing Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible franchise, or here as Major William Cage, he has the ability to breathe confidence and ruthlessness in the heroes he plays, and at the same time never taking anything too seriously. It’s the perfect blend for an action star and here in Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise is able to capture those elements once more. This is important because at the beginning of the film, he’s not playing the bad-ass hero running in to save the day.
There’s a war between alien life forms called “mimics” and the remaining humans on Earth. The humans are planning an all-out attack on many fronts to once and for all take out the mimics and send them packing back into space. General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) wants Cage to market the battle with a camera crew so they can recall their victory and to entice more people to join the forces, but Cage wants nothing to do with the actual battle. His job is to sell the war to the soldiers, not to actually be in combat. Despite his arguments, Cage is stripped of his rank and thrown into an infantry unit the day before the battle.
The all-out attack is soon realized to be false as the mimics were more than ready for the battle. Most importantly though, right before Cage dies he kills a special mimic species, which enables him a special time-bending power that brings him back to the day before the battle. Yes, it’s like Groundhog Day but with a lot of action, but like the Bill Murray film, Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t get stale despite its repetition.
The one factor that the film has that keeps it fresh while we watch Cage go through the same day over and over again is his relationship with Rita Vrataski (Blunt). She’s the poster child and the war hero that Cage has been promoting to show the world the humans still have a chance to defeat the mimics, but through his rebirths he finds out that she’s an essential ingredient to helping him figure out what’s happening, and to win the war. It’s fun and also somewhat charming to watch Cage go through the same day over again and confront Rita for the first time, trying to win her over. Between Cruise and Blunt, that’s where the center of the movie lies and it works.
For a film that repeats itself constantly, it never fails to keep you guessing what’s happening next. Director Doug Liman does a great job at speeding up what we already know and providing us with new information that is also surprising to the characters involved. There are moments where Cage even admits he doesn’t know what’s going to happen yet because it’s his first time experiencing what’s going on. To no surprise, those are the film’s best scenes.
The film also reminded me of Source Code, and like both films, the time-traveling element isn’t confusing to understand, which is always a plus in a sci-fi flick. While some of the battle scenes could have been shot sharper and with more clarity, it’s what keeps the pace crisp throughout the movie. But how does a film like this keep you on your toes if you know that Cage isn’t going to die? That’s the true gift from this film. Just when you’re feeling as anxious and tired as Cage, something new pops up and throws everything we thought we knew in complete turmoil. This is one fun ride to relive.