‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is a pretty good movie

earth_01

Posted July 15, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow doesn't feature the most glorious special effects on earth, nor the epic battle sequences one would expect would be in the film from its marketing campaign. Instead it offers an original premise, an interesting plot rife with twists and turns, and surprisingly strong character interactions.

Tom Cruise’s antics on Oprah’s couch and his aggressive religious views have hurt his image and brand, but the fact of the matter is that he still makes a damn good movie.

His track record since the couch (2005) includes: two solid entries into the Mission Impossible series (the second of which was the biggest movie of his career); an entertaining Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie; a hilarious turn in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder; and the vastly underrated Jack Reacher.

As for Edge of Tomorrow? Well, it’s a great science fiction movie.

The Story

The basic plot mimics what you would expect from a summer science fiction movie. An alien arrives on Earth that seems to want to take over the planet for its resources. Said alien is wiping out humanity at an aggressive pace. Humanity tries new weapons and strategies to combat the alien foe. Out of the ranks rises one human soldier who seems poised to turn the tide in the war. Blah, blah, right? Well, yes… except that this part of the story is briskly told within the first two minutes of the movie, and the human hero isn’t Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise plays a character you hate: Part 1

Well, at first anyways. From the get-go Cruise’s “Cage” character is a slimy communications professional with little military background who doesn’t mind recruiting soldiers to work on the front line – but the moment he is enlisted to do so he self-destructs right in front of us. He goes so far as to try to bribe a commanding officer to avoid his call of duty.

Groundhog Day

Much has been made of the movie’s use of the Groundhog Day plot device: one character, at the end of their day, wakes up time and time again to relive that same day. No matter their actions, they awake at the same point destined to face the same situations and the same challenges.

Edge of Tomorrow makes excellent use of this device in a science fiction context, and the real surprising part is that the it comes off as charming as it did in a romantic comedy starring Bill Murray. The same moment is used to stir anger, humour, desperation, and finally (SPOILERS!) conviction.

Tom Cruise plays a character you hate: Part 2

Just like Bill Murray’s character arc from snarky weatherman to lovable oaf, Tom Cruise’s character has a chance to grow over time by overcoming his fear of death and accepting his opportunity to make a difference. We begin the movie hoping that he gets his due, spend some time laughing at his many gruesome fates, but by the end of the second act we’re rooting for this guy to save the day.

Emily Blunt steals the show

Emily Blunt’s “Rita” is a breath of fresh air. Smart, confident, and physically superior, Blunt’s character is the true hero of the movie. Without Rita, Cruise’s “Cage” would probably be destined to die once a day every day to eternity. Blunt plays a character that a lot of girls can look up to. I’m a guy, so I’m not really qualified to say that, but I can only imagine this is the case. The relationship between Cruise and Blunt is surprisingly complex, and you can’t really predict how things will pan out.

The Verdict

Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t feature the most glorious special effects on earth, nor the epic battle sequences one would expect would be in the film from its marketing campaign. Instead it offers an original premise, an interesting plot rife with twists and turns, and surprisingly strong character interactions.

The questionable marketing campaign and the now-unjustified ‘Cruise’ factor are likely responsible for the film’s lackluster performance at the box office. But just as Jack Reacher prevailed in the long term, expect Edge of Tomorrow to do the same.

This won’t be your favourite movie of all time, but you will leave the theatre very satisfied, still thinking about some of the curve balls thrown at you, and wanting more of the story. A memorable outing for Tom Cruise.

Lack of Cheese
Aside from a group of two-dimensional soldiers Cruise gets stuck with from time to time, Edge of Tomorrow is pretty much devoid of cheese.

Logical Plot
It’s hard to judge the plot logic of a movie that features a time loop, but at the end of the day the film’s mechanics are sufficiently explained and there are no gaping plot holes.

Actual Emotional Engagement
Yes there’s big aliens wreaking havoc at times. But you actually care about the characters, and the suspense isn’t generated by computer graphics – these character are in situations which manage to feel real and dangerous.

Awesomeness
This movie gets points for being original, as summer blockbusters go. Excellent premise aside: Cruise shines outside of his comfort zone; Blunt steals every scene she’s in through great acting or sheer physicality; and the stakes feel high despite the aliens and the time travel.

Overall

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