Film Review: Edge of Tomorrow

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Edge of Tomorrow is a fun and exciting sci-fi actioner from Tom Cruise and Doug Liman, but a bit more depth could have put it over the top.

All You Need Is Kill. That was the original title of this movie and i kind of wish they had kept it. The title Edge of Tomorrow mostly makes sense (it’s more like Edge of Tomorrow’s Tomorrow, as Cage wakes up every time he dies with one tomorrow between him succeeding to reach the titular tomorrow), but All You Need Is Kill really gets to the heart of what this movie is trying to be. The film feels a bit stripped down to the action and plot’s core in favor of a fast paced action film with sci-fi roots rather than really diving into the sci-fi conceit and exploring its effects on the characters littered with sci-fi set pieces. And this is mostly great. This version of the story about a soldier, William Cage (Cruise), who resets time, every time he dies and how that ability can be used to strategize against the alien enemy to finally put an end to the war works. The film is action packed, funny, and has a great visual language that allows the repeat nature of the plot to be used liberally without ever spelling out, “This is the 50th time we’ve done this.” The film trusts the viewer to be able to follow along with multiple loops being shown over the course of just one scene sometimes, and does a fine job of showing you the success and failures of Cage and building off of them to solve problems without ever slowing down. I wholeheartedly recommend Edge of Tomorrow as it stands, but I kind of wish it had strived to be a bit more.

You are bound to see comparisons to Groundhog Day with this film and I wish it would have embraced those roots a bit more than it does. A lot of the depth to the plot, mythology and characters are alluded to more than investigated and that investigation really could have added some emotional stakes to a movie that is, rightfully, content to mostly just have fun. Emily Blunt plays another soldier, Rita Vrataski, who obtained the same power as Cage and has since lost it, but we never really deal with her or Cage’s potential trauma with having to relive the same battle and death over, and over again. Cage and Rita’s emotional arc are based on this conceit, but there isn’t much to it other than Cage trying to make sure that they both survive the day as impossible as that might seem. It’s touched on that Rita had a similar experience during her time loop as well, but I feel like we don’t get into it nearly as much as we could have. There is even some implication that Rita just might be ready to give up in her earliest appearances, but this is never explored. I understand the desire to keep things light, but the film has a very light touch running through it as is. A little peek into the darkness of being stuck in a time loop like this could have made this something really special, even if it is a good old time without it.

One more nitpick before I get back to the good stuff, but I wish the time-travel and alien mythology were made a bit more clear. Maybe a second or third viewing might help these elements become clearer, and they are more than clear to let you enjoy the film while watching it till the last couple minutes, but a rock solid mythology could have also helped this film jump to a truly great level. The film does a good job of asserting its rules and selling you to just run with it, but my mind wandered to trying to figure out some possible blips as soon as the credits rolled.

Let’s get back to the good stuff, because there is plenty of it. The action and effects are, for the most part, wonderfully realized and surprisingly varied. You think that you are going to get stuck on that beach for most of the movie, but the action spreads all across the French countryside, England and Europe all while often giving us different spins in each the respective locations. The action never feels repetitive or boring in a film built around the conceit of repeating everything over, and over again. The creature design is also quite interesting, even if they look a little too much like Matrix sentinels, and the way they move will keep you on your toes and surprise you on many occasions.

The principal cast is pretty great here, even if Cruise is being Cruise. How do you people not like Cruise being Cruise by the way. Cruis might be one of the most underrated actors around at this point, by the measure that people think that he is, a) no longer good and b) doesn’t make good movies anymore. News flash, he has never stopped making good to great movies. Emily Blunt is great as usual and I hope the film is a hit because she deserves to be in the biggest movies around. She has charisma, is a badass, and brings as much depth to the character as she can with what little the script/edit gives her. Bill Paxton is great in a drill Sergeant-ish role, and I found myself missing him as the story moves away from him.

Edge of Tomorrow is good summer fun that features a bit of everything. Action, laughs, thrills, it has it all. A better final setpiece (it’s the film’s weakest) and a little more depth could have made this one a classic, but that shouldn’t stop you from rushing out to see this over the weekend; it will be hard for it to disappoint.

Edge of Tomorrow is a B+

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