Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

This one snuck up on me with next to no hype and that is so, so refreshing to me right now.

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Starring:
Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson
Director:
Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr & Mrs Smith)
Rating: M
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I’m a big fan of the “time travel” sub-genre of science fiction, particularly lately. In the last half decade or so moviegoers have been treated to such quirky time travel tales as Source Code and Looper, each of which presented a cool twist on standard time travel tropes and benefitted immensely from the breathing room that comes with such an uncommonly used plot mechanic. The latest movie to join in the mind-snapping fun, Edge of Tomorrow, is better than either of them.

Starring Hollywood comeback king Tom Cruise and the always delightful Emily Blunt (who coincidentally also featured in Looper), Edge of Tomorrow is set on an ever-so-slightly futuristic earth and tells the story of cowardly war correspondent Major William Cage, who is demoted to the lowliest of ranks and sent to the front lines of a full-scale invasion of alien-occupied France as punishment for attempting to blackmail a superior officer. However the occupying aliens, called “mimics” by the humans, know that the attack is coming and absolutely rout the humans, winning the war in the process. Cage flukes a kill on an important mimic as he dies along with his fellow soldiers, causing him to wake up at the start of the day he just completed in grisly fashion. Thus begins a seemingly endless cycle of deaths as Cage finds and works with famous war hero Rita Vrataski (Blunt) to discover the mimics’ secret and save the day. The very same day, in fact.

The success of Edge of Tomorrow lies in its willingness to play around with the contents of each repeated day, dodging its way around audience expectations as it goes. As Cage grows in skill and knowledge he makes incremental improvements, but you really feel like it’s a struggle for him to get better. The standalone mid-movie montage you expect to see in this kind of film never quite eventuates, and the day is repeated so many times that you’re never quite sure whether what you are about to see is a story-significant scene or just another indication of a lesson learned. Without spoiling too much, there is a certain way you might expect setups like this to unfold, escalating in scope as the tone gets more serious, but instead of following such expectations Edge of Tomorrow jumps around a bit, slingshotting past drama, melancholy and pure action before coming back around again. The approach is played for laughs quite a bit as well, which adds a nice balance to proceedings. In that way it’s a bit like director Doug Liman‘s 2005 hit Mr & Mrs Smith.

Blunt and Cruise each deserve a sizeable bit of credit for helping the movie to work as well as it does, as they are each magnetic in their own way on screen. I’ve really enjoyed the majority of Cruise‘s work in the last half decade or so and he does his rejuvenated screen reputation no harm here, and while his fellow lead has slightly less to do, all the scenes that include her are better for it. Edge of Tomorrow isn’t a perfect film, as it has a rather stilted conclusion that feels like it belongs in a different kind of movie (To say much more would be delving into spoiler territory), but Edge of Tomorrow is a pleasant surprise of an action flick with some very cool ideas and, refreshingly for now, not a superhero in sight. If it sounds like it might be up your alley, do yourself a favour and see it .

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THE VERDICT

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Good:
Dodges cliches, great use of time travel mechanics, very watchable leads, liberal dose of humour
Bad:
Ending at odds with the rest of the film
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515/110A M A Z I N G

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