Dr. Donna Copeland’s
TOM CRUISE EMILY BLUNT BILL PAXTON BRENDEN GLEESON
EDGE OF TOMORROW
Tom Cruise’s last film, Oblivion, wasn’t seen as a failure nor a success. However, I don’t think anyone was happy when the trailer for his latest film, Edge of Tomorrow, seemed to have the 51-year-old action star saving the world from the future again. Thankfully, Edge of Tomorrow is stronger than Oblivion and is directed by Doug Liman (Fair Game, The Bourne Identity). The other major factor it has going for it is that Cruise isn’t playing macho (well, not in the beginning); he is playing a coward, a deserter, and someone who wants nothing to do with being a hero. I was reminded that this isn’t a “Tom Cruise film,” it’s an Emily Blunt film, and her rapid ascension into a star player that is universally admired is impressive.
Cage (Cruise) is the guy on television recruiting troops to fight in the battle to save the world from an alien race that has and is destroying everything. Troops have amassed in Europe to try and stop the onslaught of mimics as they are called. General Bringham (Gleeson) orders Cage, who has never seen battle, to drop with the group wave on the beach, but he refuses and is handcuffed and, without training, strapped in and ready for deployment. Cage dies within moments of landing on the beach and then wakes up in handcuffs as the day starts all over again. He finds leading solider and warrior Rita (Blunt), who understands what is happening to him, and together they fight the future.
“An enemy that knows the future can’t lose,” Rita explains. That’s really the conundrum here; Cage knows his fate and must work with Rita to change the inevitable through this constant reset, which is actually explained in detail in accordance with the events of the script to make sense. The screenplay does challenge the viewer; you certainly have to pay attention to get all the subtle plot twists. They cover their bases and the script not only makes sense but often gets priority over the special effects and action sequences. It’s certainly not boring, but by the film’s ending it takes on a rather Cruise/Spielberg War of the Worlds ending that seemed unwarranted and false.
You must acknowledge that the real hero in the film is editor James Herbert, who does his best work to date. So easily could this Groundhog Day/Source Code like day have fallen into boring repetition, but that doesn't happen thanks to Liman’s direction that continually pulls the audience into the suspense. It builds on complicated ideas and certainly affords Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Devil Wears Prada) another opportunity as an action star after Looper. Supporting actors like Paxton (Apollo 13) and Gleeson (Harry Potter) add further flavor to the small scenes that need a boost from the repetition. It’s certainly Cruise’s best film since Collateral in 2004, and maybe that’s because it isn’t all about him.
Final Thought – The editing department turns this action thriller into a smart ride.
By: Dustin Chase
Edge of Tomorrow is an intriguing, captivating story based on the novel All you Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka that wrestles with the issue of fate versus free will for the individual. How many of us would not want to redo certain days/events if we could? It has been the subject of many other films (e.g., 2013’s About Time), but Sakurazaka weaves in an action story that takes place on the battlefield when aliens are attacking the earth after they have already destroyed much of Europe.
The beginning is painful to watch when an American army officer with no experience in combat visits a general in London and is forced to join a fighting unit against his will. (A fault of the film is that there is never an explanation as to why/how a British officer could force such an assignment on an American officer, and why the soldier’s American commander did not inform him about it. It could have some relationship to how the film ends, but I see this as a hole in the plot.) Moreover, he is not trained in highly technical fighting gear, so is utterly useless in the field initially.
Interest in the film is heightened when the soldier, Cage (Tom Cruise), is killed; and when he returns to life, his path crosses that of Rita (Emily Blunt), who will serve as his guide in navigating a change in his destiny. She has been through the same experience, but lost her power when she was given a blood transfusion. The story takes a turn toward scientific mystery when the two must solve a puzzle and save the world.
The two actors cinch their roles and mesh together well. Blunt consistently elevates the quality of any film she is in, and Cruise shows more emotional range here than in some of his recent work. Much to my chagrin, however, there are the typical obvious set-ups for him to be the hero. For instance, Blunt’s character is introduced as a highly competent, quick-thinking soldier until the filmmakers have her do something stupid (forget to unhook the trailer from the getaway car). The set-up is that Cage from the start reminds her that she must do this; but of course she’ll “forget”, which gives him a chance to burst through the top of the car with dual guns firing to disengage it when they’re at top speed. Suddenly, she becomes someone he protects over and over.
But Doug Liman has directed an exciting film with really fine special effects. I especially liked the mimics—black spidery things that glow with fire and burst into exploding embers when they’re destroyed. I also like the concept of life imitating filmmaking—that is, life events are repeated over and over, just as scenes in a film are shot repeatedly. And, the characters learn and become more expert in the process.
I believe that most people who like action and sci-fi will find Edge of Tomorrow to their liking.
By Donna R. Copeland