Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Major William Cage of the United Defense Forces is a highly skilled public relations officer with no battle experience. Despite this lack of combat training, Cage, in a meeting with General Brigham, is ordered to the front lines of the major assault on an advanced species of aliens called Mimics who have invaded Earth. As anticipated, with no combat skills, Cage dies within minutes of being dropped into battle only to inexplicably find himself awakening back on the military base the previous day. Cage begins to experience this same loop of fighting, dying and waking up back in the previous day, each time gathering more information about this unyielding enemy. During one of his loops, Cage saves Sergeant Rita Vrataski, a famed soldier whose valor in previous battles earned her the nickname Angel of Verdun. Vrataski recognizes what is happening to Cage and orders him to find her when he wakes up. Together, they attempt to harness Cage’s newly found gift in hopes that it will lead to the eventual defeat of this invading species.
Director Doug Liman, whose 1996 cult comedy, Swingers, put him on the Hollywood map, has since become better known for his filmmaking abilities in the action genre, most notably his work on the Bourne series and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Borrowing narrative elements from other films, Liman has managed to create an intense and rousing original storyline in the well-represented action sub-genre of alien invasions. As we are dropped into the front line with Cage, the film uses just the right amount of C.G.I. to create a terrifying battle experience without sacrificing that realistic feel that overuse of computer graphics can sometimes cause. Edge of Tomorrow also skillfully manages to utilize the “Groundhog Day” effect. I appreciated how Liman was able to infuse some subtle humor into a handful of these loop restarts as a way to break up the dire intensity of the situation these two soldiers find themselves in.
Say what you want about his personal life, but Edge of Tomorrow proves yet again that Tom Cruise knows how to make a smart, thrilling blockbuster. Ever since his 2012 divorce, it’s obvious that Cruise has channeled his energies back into his film career. It was reported that he began working on Edge of Tomorrow only mere weeks after wrapping on his previous sci-fi effort, Oblivion. At age 51, Cruise still has the endurance to perform his own exhausting and demanding stunts, offering a much more authentic feel to his character.
Emily Blunt was simply a badass, a smoking hot badass. Some actresses when cast in demanding action roles have a difficult time truly embodying the physicality required to sell their character. Blunt had no such problem. According to People magazine, she used a regimen of Krav Maga martial arts training, sprint training, gymnastics, yoga and weight training to get physically prepared for the daunting requirements of Sergeant Vrataski. Her hard work paid off tenfold, as she WAS the Angel of Verdun. Combined with Looper and The Adjustment Bureau, Blunt has begun to create quite the resume of fresh, imaginative sci-fi movies.
Together, Blunt and Cruise make an exceptional partnership on screen. Her matter-of-fact acceptance about putting a bullet in an injured Cage during training offered an amusing form of morbid humor. And Cruise, in all his movie star glory, never was afraid to play second fiddle at times, allowing Blunt’s character to shine.
One of the film’s true narrative accomplishments was its ability to explain such a complex idea of manipulating time without becoming too bogged down by overly convoluted details. After all, audiences need to have at least a general understanding and appreciation of what’s happening and why. If there is one bone to pick, it would have to be with Liman’s choice for the ending, which doesn’t quite logically mesh with the rest of the story. But by the time you’ve reached this point, the film has offered such a wildly entertaining cinema experience, that it can generally be forgiven by most including me.
With so many big-budget extravaganzas to choose from this summer, my fear is that a film of this quality won’t get the recognition or box-office success it so rightfully deserves. The best Tom Cruise film since Collateral, Edge of Tomorrow is a tense, electrifying sci-fi thriller that expands on the alien invasion sub-genre to create a truly original movie experience. I would say welcome back Mr. Cruise, but was he really ever gone?-JL