Edge of Tomorrow Review

Posted: June 22, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

edge-of-tomorrow-international-poster-600x888Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Tom Cruise has been a pop culture punching bag for so long that it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t always this way. In a time before scientology, various relationship problems, and Oprah’s couch, Cruise was not only a huge movie star, but also a respected actor. But from the mid-2000s on, Cruise’s work seems secondary to his personal life. I’ve always tried to just ignore an artist’s personal life and just enjoy their work in and of itself. Granted, Cruise hasn’t been in anything truly great since 2004’s Collateral (his Tropic Thunder cameo not withstanding), but he has starred in a number of solid films during his controversy like War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible III, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Oblivion. His newest film, the high concept science fiction Edge of Tomorrow, falls in nicely with this line of strong action movies.

Set in an unspecified future, Earth has been visited by an alien race attempting to conquer the planet. Naturally, humanity has resisted, and has even managed to develop advanced mech suits to fight the war. Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) has pulled strings throughout the war, but has never actually seen a battlefield. When Cage is ordered to go out and fight, he tries to weasel out of it, ending with him being labelled a deserter and thrown on the front lines for the next big push. Not surprisingly, Cage does not last long before being killed, but instead of dying, wakes up the previous morning to live the day over. He finds himself on the same beach fighting the same alien race, being killed, and yet again waking up to live the day over. He soon learns that every time he dies, the day just resets from the moment he woke up that morning. With this power, and the help of expert soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage finds he may be able to destroy the aliens and save humanity.

Many have been quick to call out the similarities between Edge of Tomorrow and the comedy classic Groundhog Day. While both do share the same high concept of a man reliving the same day over and over again, the similarities pretty much end there. In Edge of Tomorrow, the concept is used solely as a device to tell an sci-fi/action story, one which is used very effectively a might add. One of the highlights of the film is watching Cage relive the same moments and learn from them. The script is smart enough to know when to show a lot of detail and when they can get away with less. Additionally, director Doug Liman does a good job staging events we’ve already seen so that they still feel fresh. Liman also keeps the film from getting too serious. There is a surprising amount of humour here, mostly from jumping between different times. This is where the editing really shines, and the film also keeps a very fast pace throughout, though perhaps too fast. It’s clear that Cage spends a lot of time, likely years, reliving the same day, but we never get a sense of the exhausting toll it must have taken on him. It’s a minor quibble, but I would have liked the film to explore this rather than just jumping to the next action beat.

It’s important to stress the action beats too because Edge of Tomorrow is definitely an action film first and foremost. The action scenes here are very well-crafted. I especially liked the first time Cage is placed on the battlefield. Clearly inpsired by Saving Private Ryan, Doug Liman a great job capturing a sense of chaos and fear while still crafting a thrilling set-piece. The rest of the action follows suit with some cool shoot-outs and a fun, but brief chase. Part of what makes the action stand out are the great designs. The mech suits in the film are pretty sweet and I also really liked the aliens. Not only did they have a cool look, but their swift, organic movements are interesting and make for some creative set-pieces. The effects used to bring all of this to life are quite strong as well. Naturally, there’s a ton of CGI, but Liman also uses practical effects, sets, and real locations nicely. The film also doesn’t allow the action or effects to over power the characters. While this isn’t a film driven by the performances, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are both perfectly serviceable as an action duo and they play off each other nicely. The two also have their share of comedic moments and while it’s never laugh out loud funny, there’s definitely enjoyment to be had in watching the two play off each other.

For all the nice things I have to say about this film, it never really touches greatness. I think the main issue is despite the high concept, at the end of the day this is a pretty standard and formulaic action film. The story doesn’t take any unexpected turns and despite strong performances, the characters are pretty standard. I might not have minded if the film had some deeper themes or at least a stronger emotional connection, but it really doesn’t. However Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t really start to lose its way until the third act, specifically the climax. I won’t go into spoilers, but a lot of typical action movie tropes that have been done many times before are repeated here. To make matters worse, the film ends on a disappointing cop-out.

Despite these flaws, I still fully recommend Edge of Tomorrow. As far as summer blockbusters go, this is a very good one. I wish it would have aimed a little higher in it’s goals and that it could have gone with a more ballsy ending, but that doesn’t dismiss all the things the film does right. Specifically the film’s fun tone, great action and visuals, and a pair of strong performances from the two leads. It’s not a great film, but Edge of Tomorrow is a very good one which I recommend to anyone seeking a good time at the movies.

B+

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. It’s a gimmick movie, but it’s a fun one that hardly ever gets to be a bore.

  2. I was shocked at how much I liked this film. The more I think about the film the more I think I like it. Love a pleasant surprise at the cinema :D

    Great review Cooper.

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