Edge of Tomorrow is a fun, exciting zero-to-hero story
If you've heard anything about Edge of Tomorrow, you've likely heard people tell you it's basically Groundhog Day as science fiction. While that's a great elevator pitch for the movie, it is at the same time true, very true, and a bit unjust.
Based on the illustrated Japanese light novel "All You Need Is Kill", the central conceit of the movie is very much the same as in Groundhog Day. Our hero relives the same day over and over for nobody knows how long. And they use many of the same storytelling techniques in both movies.
But there are so many more elements to Edge of Tomorrow that set it apart. If you take away the time loop aspect of this movie, there are still plenty of excellent sci-fi alien invasion action moments that make this one very fun.
But first, the story
As the story starts, Earth has already been invaded by an alien race called (for who knows what reason) Mimics. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer in the US Army. He's no combat soldier, though. He's a member of their public relations and publicity corps. We get several shots of Cage on the news extolling the virtues of these newfangled exoskeleton contraptions called Jackets for some reason. (This movie seems to have a bit of an identity crisis when naming these things.)
However, on the eve of a major offensive, he finds himself on loan to the allied forces stationed in London, about to be inserted into battle to cover the invasion. Imagine Walter Cronkite embedded in a platoon to cover the storming or Normandy Beach. Cage is understandably reluctant and runs afoul of General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson).
After a confrontation, Cage finds himself shanghaied and waking up on the tarmac of a military base that is preparing for the offensive. He's inserted into a squad under Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome (Bill Paxton) and soon finds himself in the heat of a battle that would make young Bill Paxton run screaming "Game over, man! Game over!"
On the battlefield, he sees the lovely but tough-as-nails war hero Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) killed in battle. Then, as his squad is attacked by a number of mimics, Cage manages to kill one of them but he gets doused in its blood and shortly wakes up on the tarmac again.
He soon realizes that he appears to be repeating the same day over and over. Every time he dies the whole thing starts over. When Rita sees him in the field, apparently able to predict when attacks and explosions are about to happen, she suddenly seems to realize what has happened and tells Cage to find her when he wakes up again.
Any bets about how she figured it out?
Dot dot dot
First off, once you get past the time looping story element, there is still plenty to enjoy in this movie. But once the time loop is explained, there's plenty of fun still to be had just with that.
Rita takes to training the n00b, and it gets pretty fun. She doesn't start him small and ramp up. She throws him into the deep end with lethal consequences for failure. And when he fails the training and the training fails to kill him, she simply kills him and starts the cycle over again.
Which is one of the pluses of this movie. If you're a fan of Tom Cruise, there's plenty of Cruise being Cruise here. And if you really aren't a Tom Cruise fan, there's plenty of Tom Cruise dying. It's a morbid win-win.
Now, in every story using some form of time travel or temporal manipulation, there will almost inevitably be little-to-giant problems. Why can't Bill and Ted simply go to their class presentation whenever they're ready? Why doesn't Marty McFly remember the altered timeline when he makes it home? What the heck is a Primer anyway?
This one has a couple of issues that you really shouldn't think too hard about, but nothing that will distract you from the very well-done action and surprisingly good character development. The biggest question I was left with didn't come about until the end anyway, when it was too late to ruin the movie.
So don't worry about over-thinking this one. Just sit there and let the movie happen at you.
Edge of Tomorrow - trailer
My one real qualm isn't that big and it has nothing to do with the story. It's the casting. Throughout the movie, we're lead to understand that Cage is developing real feelings for Rita. It never develops that much on her side, because she only ever has one day with him. But it's very real for Cage.
Now Tom Cruise is nearly 21 years older than Emily Blunt. It's not a terrible age gap, but I would have liked it if someone had at least addressed it. Of course, Cruise is exceptionally fit for a nearly-fifty-two-year-old man, and Blunt is only about four years younger than Cruise's real-life ex, Katie Holmes, so maybe nobody thought it was particularly that important. It just kept sticking in my head.
But if that's not an issue for you, then good for you.
But what do you think of the movie?
For me, though, even my biggest complaints really don't ruin this movie. I'd have to give it a respectable-to-strong 8 / 10. Roughly on par with X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Edge of Tomorrow is rated PG-13 primarily for plenty of sci-fi alien combat action violence, but there's also a bit of language (including one aborted "F" and a number of references to Rita as "Full Metal B****"), some nudity (shirtless men in the barracks, a quick shot of one man's bare butt in his Jacket, and the like), a few innuendos and mentions of sex, and a couple of mildly disturbing images.
And if you care, the 3D version for this one is a conversion. Conversions have gotten better and this one's pretty good. But for me, it'll always be better filmed in 3D.