Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Directed by Doug Liman. Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton. IMDB says: “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.”
The latest movie to focus on intergalactic war, Edge of Tomorrow puts the world in an intense state of peril as a complicated new species called Mimics attack earth and all of its inhabitants. If you’ve always wanted to know what it would be like if Saving Private Ryan and Groundhog Day had a film baby that was really into aliens then you are in luck. Thankfully for all of us, Edge of Tomorrow is a much more gripping and worthy film than its generic title suggests.
The movie gets the audience up to speed on the current war through a collage of overlapping news broadcasts that offer information on the alien attacks and current state of the countries. The next big battle is set for London and Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) makes his way across the pond to continue his role as public relations gopher for the war. To his complete shock and dismay, Cage is ordered to join soldiers in active duty even though he openly admits he is nothing more than a face the army uses to sell the war and not at all combat ready. After a few attempts to avoid his fate, the Major is ultimately forced to leave the comfort of his position in front of the camera and enter into active duty. Once in battle, Williams’ worst fears are realized as he is mind-blowingly unprepared for war. The introduction to this battle is comparable to the harrowing scenes of the Normandy Invasion on Omaha Beach seen in Saving Private Ryan. Heart-pounding, terrifying and disorienting. As Cage struggles to survive he spots Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) aka Full Metal Bitch. Rita is another face of the war, rising to fame after defeating a record number of Mimics in a previous battle. She is strong, skilled and she dies right in front of Williams’ eyes. The organic/mechanic octopus like creatures destroy almost everything on the beach but Cage manages to get his shit together long enough to kill one. Then, as quick as one goes down, another much larger creature attacks Cage and kills him. Of course, this isn’t his actual demise. He picks back up at the start of the day at base camp, living out the same day once again. This phenomenon is later explained and together with Rita, Cage uses this ability to his advantage by training and coordinating battles in order to defeat the enemy.
This Groundhog Day premise is used both effectively and efficiently within the film’s narrative. When we start reliving the battle it is still quite exhilarating because there is so much intensity confined to the one scene that every small aspect dissected is continually interesting. What the script accomplishes really well is knowing when to show and fold, keeping the audience involved in the outcome of each reset of the day. It is sort of like you are playing a video game where the character constantly resurrects but you’ve maintained the knowledge from your previous round. It is frustrating when the character can’t advance but only furthers your investment in their goals.
The performances in the film also helped round out the solid narrative features. Most of the film rides on Cruise who is in top form here and Emily Blunt who turns in another fantastic performance. The duo have amazing chemistry that makes both characters all the more likable. On the supporting spectrum, Bill Paxton shows up as Master Sergeant Farell. He is just as hilarious and perfect in the role as you might suspect.
This year’s summer blockbusters are sitting at a 3 for 3 at the moment. Both Days of Future Past and Godzilla were a lot of fun but Edge of Tomorrow is my favorite of the bunch so far. The film is visually impressive, wildly enjoyable and a truly enthralling movie going experience.