“Edge of Tomorrow”
1 hour, 53 minutes
As much as I enjoy Tom Cruise’s movies, I’ve been a little dubious of his latest, “Edge of Tomorrow,” for several reasons.
One, the initial trailer, though later versions have improved, wasn’t much to write home about. The bulky, robotic suit/weapon worn by the soldiers in their terrifying battle with aliens just looked too cumbersome to be interesting and, aside from a creepy cool pop song, just didn’t grab me.
Also, for months before, I’d been reading about this film with it’s original title, the one derived from the original Japanese manga, “All You Need is Kill.” I have no idea what that title means, but it sounds mistranslated. Changing the film to “Edge of Tomorrow” was a good idea, though that title is pretty generic.
The upshot of all that is that I wasn’t all that jazzed about the movie coming out this week. It is Tom Cruise, though …
Surprisingly, to me and to a number of critics around the country, “Edge of Tomorrow” is a lot of fun. It’s action-packed, well acted and written, and unexpectedly smart. It’s been compared more than once to Bill Murray’s seminal 1993 classic “Groundhog’s Day,” and the comparison is apropos, not only for its funky sci-fi conceit, but for its high level of quality, as well.
Cruise plays Bill Cage, a major in the U.S. Army, in charge of marketing and public relations. By his own admission, he’s not a soldier, just an ad man who wound up in the military after an alien invasion unites the planet with a world war for survival. Selling enlistment is Cage’s speciality, but when his superior officer, played by Brenden Gleeson, orders him to film the front lines, an attack on the beaches at Normandy, ironically, our hero suffers a major crisis of confidence. This doesn’t go over well, and before long Cage finds himself embedded in the leading attack unit, not as a journalist, but as a combat troop, a private, busted down for desertion.
The battle is, not unexpectedly, horrible, with terrifying aliens zooming and burrowing and killing with lightning speed. In an act of desperation, Cage manages to kill one of the creatures, called Mimics, unfortunately killing himself in the process.
And then a funny thing happens. Cage wakes up twenty-four hours earlier, back at the point where he was busted down to private and delivered into the arms of the forward battle group. And then it happens again. And again, and again, until Cage finally begins to take charge of his own destiny.
Using the curse as an opportunity to learn, he becomes a better soldier, eventually coming across Rita Vrataski, played by Emily Blunt, known to all as the hero of Verdun, a seemingly super-soldier who Cage discovers was once like him.
No time for reminiscing, however — the Mimics are in the endgame and the entire planet lies in the balance. All will be lost if Cage and Rita can’t figure out how to use this bizarre gift in time. Time, on the other hand, is all Bill Cage has left.
There are many reasons why “Edge of Tomorrow” succeeds, but its two leads are two of the biggest. Tom Cruise gives 110 percent to every project he works on, and this one is no different. Emily Blunt, one of my new favorite actresses, is making a name for herself in smart sci-fi, previously starring in “Looper” and the excellent “Adjustment Bureau.” She’s very good here as well, and her chemistry with her co-star is just about perfect.
Joining them are a supporting cast of mostly unknown actors, but included in that group are both Bill Paxton, who is really good in a small role, and the aforementioned Gleeson. In addition, the screenplay is both very tight and very entertaining. The jokes, when they come, hit their mark, and the tension is very real. “Edge” is written by Christopher McQuarrie, the guy who penned “The Usual Suspects,” among other things, and is directed by Doug Liman, who gave us “Go,” “The Bourne Identity,” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” among others.
This film is a worthy addition to all their credits.
“Edge of Tomorrow” is rated PG-13 for combat violence, briefly gruesome, and mild language.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.