Movie Review: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendon Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Noah Taylor
Story: During a bloody battle against alien invaders a military PR officer Major William Cage is killed during a close encounter with the enemy. Due to exposure to it’s blood he adopts their ability to ‘reset’ the day and play it out again. Given the opportunity to turn the tide of a hopeless battle he teams up with battlefield hero Rita ‘Full Metal Bitch’ Vrataski, who has experienced the same phenomenon, to form a plan through trail and error.
Review: So it’s another big budget action movie starring Tom Cruise. Funnily enough the studios have been worried about the lack of ‘buzz’ surrounding the release and anticipate a poor box office. The strange thing is that I’m going to recommend that you go and see it because this is a damn good action movie that makes good use of it’s sci-fi elements.
The movie does little to comfortably ease the viewer into the story. It begins with a Dawn of the Dead remake style introduction showing a mishmash of news stories explaining that a meteor crashed to the Earth, leading to an rapid take-over of Europe by the ‘Mimics’. Tom Cruise may turn some people off the movie, but the character starts out such a smug twunt that it’s hard not to appreciate his work in the role. Although he’s a military officer he’s never seen battle, and when ordered to the front line he resorts to blackmail to protect himself. He gets his comeuppance when he’s thrust onto the battlefield where his lack of nerve and training and nature takes it course.
Upon discovering the ability to ‘reset’ the day upon his death Cage comes into contact with Vrataski (a brilliant Emily Blunt), the battle hardened soldier who used to have the same ability) and they work to win the war by repeating the day hundreds of times until they get it right. Yes, it’s basically Groundhog Day as an action film. It’s in using this gimmick that makes the movie work, propelling the story by use of action and surprisingly effective comedy. The sci-fi elements are swept aside in favour of the narrative, but the movie plays to its strengths. So good for it.
When the action kicks in (and it does frequently) it is a genuinely exciting movie. Although the battle is repeated time and time again the direction and imagination keep things interesting. The human troops are all equipped with mech suits that are well designed (aesthetically at least…leaving all the major organs uncovered is actually a dumb design move) and they feel like they make the wearing a kick-ass, super powerful warrior. The Mimics are a fresh take on alien invaders – they’re a completely unique design that we’ve never seen before. Each is a swarming mass of tentacles and the way they move, attack and burrow through the sand is fantastically well animated. No matter how often they’re encountered they’re mesmerising to watch. Cage’s increased ability in combat leads to better clashes throughout the movie, giving it a nicely consistent escalation.
Some Groundhog Day style comedy ensures with the frequent deaths and resets (and yes, you get to see Cruise killed many, many times). His reactions and occasional resignation to the bullet in the head produced some heartfelt laughs from the audience. As with any good comedy the key is in the timing and they do nail it frequently, and never overplay the gag. It’s not a central part of the movie, but it is a welcome diversion from the melodrama.
Essentially it’s a good Hollywood movie. Good action, good comedy to break things up, and an interesting story. Unfortunately it stumbles on a hurdle during the final sprint. The unique qualities of the movie are pushed aside at the beginning of the third act. It was expected that a new element may be brought forward to continue the motif, but instead it turns into Generic Action 1o1. Towards the end it looks like we’re going to have a powerful moment for the heroes but that gets thrown out for a ‘happy’ ending that doesn’t add anything to the story.
Aside from the generic final act and chirpy ending, this is better than the average Hollywood action film. It’s a fresh take on a genre increasingly bogged down in strained Die Hard sequels and Expendables movies. It’s worth getting out to see on the big screen and in 3D, and if Tom Cruise is a problem just remember that you get to see his face being burned off.
Rating: EIGHT outta TEN