I am a little behind on this one, but I am definitely glad I made the time to watch it over the weekend. Edge of Tomorrow is a new take on the “groundhog day” plot, made popular by the incomparable Bill Murray in the classic Groundhog Day. It’s an all-around good action science-fiction movie to usher in the summer blockbuster season. And, although one may expect the movie to be predictable, as these genre of movies go, it was equipped with some twists and turns that were unexpected. Just when you were ready to give up on the summer blockbuster season, this movie swoops in to save the day. By satisfying genre requirements and delivering a star-driven narrative that’s smart, sexy, and surprisingly good, Edge of Tomorrow is definitely leading the pack of movies to hit theaters this summer holiday season.
This epic action movie unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again…and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.
The most surprising thing about this movie is that you would expect it to be another massive budgeted Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie; but, with Director Doug Liman at the helm, you get a well-rounded cinema experience fun for the whole family. Of course, that is what one should expect given that Liman directed the successful Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. With the aid of the excellent performances of Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, the movie manages to show us events that we expect to be one way, and we get it from a whole other direction.
The movie has a very fast-moving plot, and with many elements of the movie being a mashup of War of the Worlds and Groundhog Day, there are times that the viewer does not know what’s going on or why. The unforeseen complexities push up against the corners of the mind and cause it to short-circuit sometimes. However, this plot is not nearly as complex or confusing as Inception.
Keeping us going at those moments, and all others, is Liman’s confidence and intuition as a director–his filmmaking bravado, if you will. Working with cinematographer Dion Beebe, editor James Herbert and visual effects supervisor Nick Davis, Liman is so adroit at layering in action and tension that we are swept away by his brisk cinematic tide even when we lose track of where it’s taking us.
Aside from the brilliant direction from Liman, the biggest key to the film’s success is the spot-on performance from Cruise, who gets to play one of the rare blockbuster protagonists whose character is allowed to believably transform right in front of our eyes. Believe it or not, this sci-fi action movie demonstrates that character development in this genre is possible! The continual repetition may sound boring, but Liman and his team have worked out multiple permutations and iterations to get us into each new recurrence, and both stars are strong actors fully committed to their roles.