It’s been a rough few years for Tom Cruise. For an actor with his credentials, he’s headlined some crappy movies. I didn’t know who Jack Reacher was and after watching Jack Reacher, I still didn’t know and didn’t care. Oblivion was a science-fiction train wreck and Rock of Ages was funny, but forgettable. I thought grim times would continue until Edge of Tomorrow surfaced. Frequent visits to Rotten Tomatoes help me decide which movie to watch next. Tom’s latest endeavor got a string of positive reviews; thus, my expectations were elevated. Thankfully, this blockbuster didn’t disappoint.
Edge of Tomorrow movie poster. Courtesy/comingsoon.net
Why is Edge of Tomorrow such a good film? The basic premise is not groundbreaking and I can think of a dozen movies involving aliens and humanity’s potential extinction. A smaller number of movies deal with time travel, but that is getting worn out as well. However, combine the two concepts together and cinema gold emerges. Hollywood didn’t fathom this idea on their own. The movie is an adaption of a Japanese light-novel called All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka; therefore, I attribute some this film’s success to the source material.
Time loops throw a wrench in the cliché, giving birth to an unexplored science fiction story. Characters are allowed to grow and development in ways that a normal action movie wouldn’t allow. New struggles manifest: can an invincible enemy be stopped if you could reset the day indefinitely? Despite some poor aesthetic design and a forgettable trailer, Edge of Tomorrow has an exceptional concept for a science fiction film.
Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is the soldier who is caught in the time loop. When I say “soldier” that means an officer in the marketing division of the United States military. Cage is thrown into the invasion force with no battle suit training. He is refreshing character because fear and cowardice rule him. His best skill is selling the battle suits to the public, not fighting in them. Cage’s soldier skills improve through reliving the same battle field hundreds of times and his connection with Rita deepens.
Rita Vartaski (Emily Blunt) is the woman who won the only battle against the Mimics. She represents hope for the human race. For Cage, she is a teacher and mentor. The battles have hardened her to the point of complete detachment. Even after she discovers Cage is looping back in time, Rita remains closed. To the film’s credit, her relationship with Cage remains platonic. While an Inkling of romance does exist, neither Rita nor Cage have the chance to explore those feelings.
Repetition drew me into this movie. Cage relives the same day thousands of times throughout the film. One might imagine this would get boring. Thankfully, the writers realized how mix repetition and story progression. Each time Cage resets the day, new moments are revealed through his actions. Some days he tries to convince the people around him, other times he’s goes straight to Rita. Spinets of scenes are replayed for continuity, but Cage’s day never played out exactly the same.
Aesthetically speaking, Mimics are a mix between aliens (Aliens) and a cyborg. Their moments are fast, unpredictable and deadly. It’s hard for a movie to sell a terrifying enemy. Edge of Tomorrow shows the audience an enemy that cannot be destroyed. The minute those soldiers hit the beach head a massacre ensues. Mimics are akin to an autonomous natural disaster, creatures humans don’t understand or are able to stop. This ominous feeling dominates in the entire film, creating wonderful tension.
Cage and Rita are never safe; their moments of ease are fleeting. A surprising amount of suspense occurs considering this is an action flick. I enjoyed that no one else could be convinced that Cage was looping through time, despite some impressive logic form the duo. Desperation rules all of his actions because only Rita can be trusted. The tension continues to build until the apex before the climax. It reminded me a little of Argo in this regard. A fatal flaw does stymie the plot.
Trending with some other great films, Edge of Tomorrow’s ending is the weakest link. The climax is heart wrenching, yet heroic. Sacrifices are made that the loop can’t turn back; hope is achieved at a great cost. Unfortunately, the resolution makes the drama of those sacrifices pointless. Also it creates a temporal inconsistency. Events that bring about the closing scene conflict with established facts about the time travel power. It’s too neat and nice. It seems the writers wimped out because the audience might demand a happy ending. However, these things happen. Nit-picking: I thought the design of the military suits was rather stupid. They should have taken more inspiration from the light novel.
Similar to Her, a disappointing ending doesn’t kill this film. The writers did an excellent adaption. It’s definitely one of the best science fiction movies I’ve seen in quite some time, go see it. Check out more reviews at http://stumbling-critic-sw.blogspot.com/
Steven Walter has lived in Los Alamos most of his life. He graduated from NMSU as a starving writer and loves to review just about anything. He shares his opinions about movies, video game and anime. Feel free to look at more reviews and other content at http://stumbling-critic-sw.