Have you ever played a fun video game that is really difficult? It makes you frustrated, so much so, that you almost think about giving up on it. But as soon as you turn away, it pulls you back, because it’s simply that exhilarating. That, my friends, is Edge of Tomorrow.
If there’s one thing we know about Tom Cruise, it’s that he is capable of pulling off the action/sci-fi film (see Oblivion), sometimes with flying colors (see Minority Report). Cruise has a way of portraying genuine valor in characters that few actors can match. So he is the perfect fit to play Major William Cage, a weasely coward who must become a masterfully heroic soldier after he is unexpectedly thrust into a battle front against an invading alien race.
But Edge of Tomorrow (based off of the Japanese graphic novel All You Need is Kill) is not your average man vs. aliens war epic. In this film, the hero is forced to live the same day over and over again following his death on the battlefield. Think Groundhog’s Day meets Independence Day. Emily Blunt plays Rita aka “The Angel of Verdun” or the “Full Metal Bitch”, a worldwide heroine who used the same power to capture a previous victory over the invading alien race known as mimics. Once discovering Cage’s power, the two must join forces, and experience a LOT of deaths, in order to learn from mistakes and turn the tides against the time shifting alien enemy.
The unique plot of course leads to a unique narrative, where scenes are lived over and over again. Early on, the redundancy can be as annoying to the audience as it is to Cruise’s William Cage, because it feels as if the story isn’t progressing. But where the film gets most interesting is when, following a montage of Cage’s deaths and redo’s, we no longer can tell if he’s been through the events or not. Cruise and Blunt make everything work. She is earnest, tough, and noble. Cruise soundly exhibits the fear and utter hopelessness that comes with the sense of an inevitable fate.
But their performances aren’t the only reason the film triumphs. The supporting soldiers, named the ‘J’ Squad by Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome (Bill Paxton), is colorful and humorous. The Mimics themselves, massive metallic octopus-like creatures that move like rapid spiders, are perhaps the most visually daunting aliens I’ve ever seen in a sci-fi battle film. Some of it may be confusing, the beginning may be a bit clustered and rushed, and the ending may be a bit too happily ever after (at least for my taste). But the meat of the movie, aka the main course, is as vibrant and invigorating as any science fiction film.
FINAL GRADE: B+