What’s this? Another sci-fi movie? I think we can officially proclaim this the genre of the summer. I’ve been enthusiastic about most of this year’s sci-fi stuff, but Edge of Tomorrow was actually one of the films that I had every intention of avoiding. I thought, “Oh, boy. Tom Cruise doing another bland sci-fi playing the same character he plays in everything else. PASS.” But color me surprise when I started seeing good reviews for it. Color me even more surprised when some crazy individuals on WordPress (i.e. Mikey and Mutant) started saying it was even better than one of my favorite movies of the year so far, X-Men: Days of Future Past. With praise like this, I had to check it out.
I stand by my opinion that Days of Future Past is the sci-fi to beat this summer, but you know what? Edge of Tomorrow is pretty darn fun—much more fun than anyone expected it to be, I think. It definitely borrows from some other films (people have been comparing it to Groundhog Day left and right), but it manages to bring something fresh to the concept while infusing plenty of action and liberal doses of humor. Given how bland I originally thought it was going to be, I’d say that’s a massive win.
Synopsis: “An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: Guys—Tom Cruise actually plays a different character than he has been lately. Shock and awe! He’s not Ethan Hunt or Jack Reacher, the badass tough guys that we’ve grown accustomed to. Instead, he plays Cage, a U.S. Army officer who has never seen a day of combat. He’s been merely a face for the media. In reality, he’s a coward and a terrible soldier. He changes throughout the film, becoming more like those tough Tom Cruise characters we know so well, but I think allowing us to see this gradual change makes him a more relatable character—even if we think he’s kind of a scumbag for a bit. Oddly enough, Emily Blunt is the true tough guy in this film, and she’s surprisingly good at it. Blunt plays Rita Vrataski, a seasoned, sword-wielding soldier credited with killing hundreds of the aliens that have invaded Earth. Rita becomes a mentor for Cage, teaching him to fight and helping him understand his peculiar predicament, though with a nickname of “Full Metal Bitch,” you know she’s not going to go easy on him. The two characters have nice chemistry and a relationship that may hint at romance but doesn’t ever rely too heavily on it, which I was grateful for since that would’ve been the predictable route. Plus, Cruise is old enough to be Blunt’s dad, even if he doesn’t look it. (Seriously, is he ever not going to look 10 years younger than he actually is??) There aren’t many other characters of great importance, but I will say that Bill Paxton plays a pretty perfect sergeant. He’s a bit of a cliché, sure, but Paxton plays him so well that who cares? Also worth mentioning: the aliens, which are many-tendriled, quivery things that move in a pretty interesting way; the vein of humor that runs throughout much of the film, which effectively lightens up moments that could’ve been stale; the generally strong use of repeated scenes—we see the same moments several times, but the changes keep them interesting.
Favorite scene: There’s a sequence where Rita is training Cage, and every time he gets severely injured, she immediately opts to “reset.” Basically, he dies. A lot. It sounds grim, but the way it’s done is pretty funny.
The Bad: Did anyone else think the “exo-suits” are a little awkward? Just the way some of the characters move in them…they seem much more unwieldy than useful. Every time I see suits like that in sci-fi films, I frown a little and think, “Really? This is the future of warfare?” Because it seems to me the future is leaning toward more covert stuff—unmanned drones and snipers and stuff. Throwing bulky metal men at nearly unstoppable aliens seems like a bad call. Just bomb those suckers! Haha. Another awkward thing: though admittedly she looks super cool with it, how silly is Rita’s sword? I mean, c’mon…It’s the size of a small person. Even with the help of the exo-suit, how the heck is she swinging that thing? Girl, get yourself a machine gun and forget that crap. Also, can I just say that the way the army handles Cage is a little ridiculous? Initially, Cage is a coward who not only doesn’t want to fight but doesn’t know how. Knowing this, a superior officer still sends him to fight, and then no one proceeds to tell him anything about the exo-suit he is thrust into. If you were fighting alongside Cage, wouldn’t you want him to know how to use his weapon so he could help you kill aliens rather than accidentally shoot you in the head? A crash course in how to use an exo-suit seems like not only a good idea but a necessity. My only other major qualm (aside from my least favorite scene below) is the waste of J-Squad. There are some potentially fun and interesting characters in the bunch, but they’re barely developed throughout the film. And did Nance’s (Charlotte Riley) accent bother anybody else? She’s clearly going for a Deep South accent, but it just sounds…off. I found out the actress is English, so maybe that’s what I was detecting.
Least favorite scene: The ending. I’m sure some people loved it, but I thought it was a pretty big disappointment. I wish I could say more, but that would involve spoilers, and that’s not how I roll.
To Sum It Up: Despite my initial reluctance, this film was pleasant surprise. It’s a fun, clever take on a Groundhog Day-esque idea. Cruise and Blunt deliver as the leads, there’s enough humor and action to satisfy almost anyone, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi ride. If you’re a fan of the genre or even of Cruise, it’s worth a trip to the theater.
My Grade: B+