Edge of Tomorrow

<i>Edge of Tomorrow</i>

Somewhere in the not-too-distant now, aliens will/are/have invaded the world via a meteor landing in continental Europe. Aliens with the ability to replay periods of time (roughly 24-48 hours) over and over again, making them largely invincible. Or at least they were, until press officer William Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself an unlikely front-line soldier who somehow manages take hold of the aliens’ abilities in his dying moments and soon finds himself living the same battle over and over and over again.

The idea of eternal recurrence has been around since at least Nietzsche. The idea of eternal recurrence as the backbone of a high-concept science fiction or fantasy story has been around not quite as long, but certainly since Groundhog Day popularized the concept in 1993, and it’s been mimicked often since, to the point where that movie’s title itself has become a descriptor.

As interesting as the concept is, any story-building from it has long since passed the point of being considered original, even from a 10-year-old illustrated novel by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka. It would be easy then to describe something like Edge of Tomorrow as Groundhog Day with power armor and aliens, but not only does that sound pretty awesome in its own right, it doesn’t do justice to the bundle of outright fun director Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) has created.

From his hellish redux of the Invasion of Normandy (Allied and German forces replaced this time around with said power armor and said aliens) to the obvious joy he takes in the sight gags the concept gives him the ability to pull off (most of them revolving around Cage’s frequent, sudden death), Tomorrow works less because of a push towards originality and more from relishing in the tropes it has been dealt. Told with aplomb and vigor, Tomorrow avoids as much information dump as possible, dumping the audience into the action with Cage and the unruly soldiers of J-Squad he has been stuck with (including Bill Paxton‘s scene-stealing turn as the squad’s sergeant), and waiting nearly an hour to explain the exact nature of the fix he’s in.

Sure, there are some typical elements of the blockbuster here — the story elements have been mechanized as much as possible in order to be understood by as many people as possible. The ultimate goal is essentially a MacGuffin, something the characters are intrinsically interested in and yet which affects them very little. But they are overridden at almost every turn, as Liman goes to pains to expand on the cinematic opportunities his concept offers. It’s often difficult to decide whether it’s an action movie that wants to be a comedy, or not.

If Tomorrow has a weakness it is its human element. Though it features often sparking dialogue from the Butterworth siblings (Fair Game) and Academy Award winner Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), when it comes to dramatizing either Cage’s journey from play soldier to real soldier or his growing feelings for fellow time-skipper Emily Blunt, Edge comes off as most unsure of itself. Mainly because these various complicated emotions are largely internalized by Cruise, due to no one else remembering what has happened to him. And while it turns out he does have something besides “earnest” in his repertoire — he does “venal” quite well — delivering real feeling in the circumstances he’s been given remains a step too far.

It also suffers from a lack of a villain, as the Mimicks are left as undefined (and unseen) as possible for as long possible, forces of nature designed to throw the characters together more than to oppose their stories.

That said, much of what Edge of Tomorrow sets out to do, it accomplishes and then some. Liman and his team have taken full advantage of the possibilities the concept has given them, from its unreal battle sequences to its search to pull every last bit of fun out of the repetitions of Cage’s day. Even when it inevitably reverts back to an action film, with a slightly inadequate ending, it refuses to wipe away the silly grin it’s been wearing for two hours. You’ll have the same problem.

Cast: Tom Cruise as Major William Cage; Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski; Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome; Brendan Gleeson as General Brigham; Kick Gurry as Griff; Dragomir Mrsic as Kuntz; Charlotte Riley as Nance; Jonas Armstrong as Skinner; Franz Drameh as Ford; Masayoshi Haneda as Takeda; Tony Way as Kimmel; Noah Taylor as Dr. Carter.

(Warner Bros. Pictures -- http://www.warnerbros.com/studio/divisions/motion-pictures/pictures.html; Village Roadshow Pictures -- http://vreg.com/; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions; Edge of Tomorrow -- http://www.edgeoftomorrowmovie.com/; Edge of Tomorrow (Facebook) -- https://www.facebook.com/EdgeofTomorrowMovie)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, June 27th, 2014. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Edge of Tomorrow

  1. Movies Spokane on July 26th, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Oh, thank you so much for posting this! It is going to help when I am thinking about going to the movies in Spokane! I am from Edmonton so I am not familiar with Spokane. Next time I visit my family will be so much better! Wonderful!

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