Movie Review | Edge of Tomorrow
Movie summary: A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies. (IMDb)
Edge of Tomorrow is one of those where everybody who's seen it knows how good it is, it's just unfortunate that not a lot of people saw it. I remember going to see it opening weekend at the cinema and the (small) screen wasn't even half full, which I thought was a shame as it meant a lot of people missed out on one of the best movies of 2014.
Despite the focus on action here, the obvious comparison would be Groundhog Day, with time repeating over and over again for someone who starts out as a deeply unlikable character who changes over time, slowly growing closer to a female love interest. The main difference here is that the love interest is just as ready to fight and has been through something similar herself.
But we'll start off with Tom Cruise, playing Bill Cage, who starts out as a cowardly, self-serving member of the military far more interested in talking up the conflict with the aliens on television than in actually taking part himself. As a result, his terror at heading into combat is almost funny, because he's just slimy kind of guy you want to see get shown up whenever possible.
To go from that to Cage as a believable action hero is testament to Cruise's acting skill, plus the fact that we get to see him slowly learn over time, rather than being awesome from the start like Ethan Hunt or Jack Reacher. He might still learn a little quicker than is ultimately realistic, but you see him suffer so much being killed repeatedly that it's satisfying enough to see how he ends up.
On the other hand, Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski is the action hero that's awesome from the start, although we very quickly find out that she may have followed the same arc as Cage thanks to repeating time in a previous battle. And Blunt completely sells it too - Cruise may have more experience with action films, but you absolutely believe she's the more experienced combatant of the pair.
The aliens, called Mimics, are a great enemy for them to fight against too - it helps that they actually look and behave alien to us rather than humans wearing prosthetics. We don't learn a great deal about them as a species in their own right, but the movie gets across just how dangerous they are and the cinematography shows off their amazing designs just beautifully.
That same cinematography is also brilliant in showing off the action that takes up large chunks of the running time, especially considering how often you see the same moments or sequences over and over again. It's great how things can be shown from a different angle or expanded on just a little bit, yet never make you feel like you're just watching the exact same parts on repeat.
As for the time travel element, it's a really cool way of not just showing how much experience Cage gets in combat, but also serves to keep making the Mimics feeling dangerous thanks to how many times they kill him along with lots of others. Some people might get confused with the ending, but if you pay attention when it's explained how the time travel works, it will make sense - honest!
There has been some talk of a sequel getting made, but I think it'll be a challenge to avoid feeling like a repeat. Edge of Tomorrow is a great movie that tells a complete story and it's hard to see where things can be taken by the time the credits start. Maybe the time travel can be controlled? Except the fact that it is gained by accident here is part of what makes the movie work - this is a great example of controlled chaos and I'm not sure tilting it too far in either direction would work.
Edge of Tomorrow is a brilliant movie that was seriously overlooked by audiences when it came out. The central plot is great, with a unique combination of time travel and action that is both easy to understand and consistent in how it works. Cruise and Blunt are also a great leading pair, with the latter proving to be just as fantastic an action hero as her older co-star.