Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Reliving the same day over and over again sounds like it could be fun, depending on the circumstances. Think about it; how many times have you screwed up and wished you could take something back that you did or said? If only there were a reset button you could push to re-do your actions of the day and make your life the way you wish it could be. For Tom Cruise in “Edge Of Tomorrow,” it’s anything but happy. Earth is being invaded with alien creatures called Mimics, and Cruise is put right in the middle of the action. Due to a severe interaction with one of these Mimics, Major William Cage (Cruise) is cursed with the ability to wake up at the beginning of the day and re-live all the past events again and again. Think of it as “Groundhog Day” meets “World of the Worlds.” The film’s trailer impressed me and I was immediately hooked, which made me all the happier when it lived up to the hype.

This is a tricky premise to nail down. With the same events going on repeatedly, you have the potential to bore your audience to death by showing them the same set of images and lines throughout the movie. Cage is able to slowly change the outcome of each day based on information he gains in the previous day he experiences. This makes for well-done action scenarios and some very funny comedic moments. He experiments by doing things in different ways. When they work out, it’s great for him and he can move on; when they don’t, it becomes a pretty hilarious scene for us to watch. Of course, if we had this ability, we’d use it to try new things and see what happens as well, so I like that the movie put a realistic spin on that premise, showing that not everything works out. The interactions with Bill Paxton’s character become better and better as the story progresses because of this gimmick.

Emily Blunt has been given a juicy role to play. Her character is Rita Vrataski, a soldier who is advertised (literally) to be the best in the alien-killing business. Rita learns what has happened to Cage and agrees to train him to move quickly through the battlefield and find the alien power source to end this war for good. Cruise and Blunt share a lot of chemistry. No matter what they do, it works. Training and fighting together, the two of them are a great on-screen team.

The biggest surprise for me was the character Tom Cruise plays and how different he ends up being from previous characters on his resume. This isn’t the know-it-all, heroic Tom Cruise we know from “Mission Impossible”; we are given a wimpy, average guy who hates the sight of blood and wants nothing more than to be away from the battlefield. As he keeps reliving the days and Rita keeps up with the training, he is able to become that capable hero who can hold his own in a fight. This progression makes it easy to believe and separates it from other action movies where the hero is a hero just because the script needs him to be.

The execution of the action is important and well paced. Too little action in a movie like this will bore and likely disappoint your audience, while too much action can overwhelm them and often become the case of “cover-up” for an awful script. Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) directs this movie with perfect pacing. You are put right into the story from the get-go with a simple and fast set-up, and it never really slows down. The action scenes on the battlefield are spectacular and some of the best action I’ve seen on screen this year. It started off a little hard to watch with the overuse of “shaky cam,” but that quickly went away. The slow moments are anything but boring because the gimmick of the same day being relived over and over is so entertaining that it easily keeps your interest. I was always interested in seeing how each day is different and how it will be different compared to the others.

The biggest disappointment for me: the ending. In a sci-fi film sprinkled with time travel elements, the execution is crucial to the overall arch of the movie. While it certainly didn’t ruin the entirety of the movie for me as a viewer, I was a tad bit disappointed with the ending the chose to go with. It felt a little too safe for me, to the point where it felt like a cop-out. They had the chance to end on a very daring and compelling note, and went in a different direction.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is not only one of the best sci-fi movies I’ve seen in a very long time, but one of my favorite movies of this year. This is a film that walks a fine line between funny and serious, which makes it thought provoking as well. That is the recipe for a fantastic movie.