Edge of Tomorrow – Review

After watching the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow, I expected a fun action movie that I would instantly forget the moment I walked out of the theater. I should have given Tom Cruise more credit, since the man does pick some really interesting science fiction movies, even if last year’s Oblivion wasn’t nearly as good as War of The Worlds or Minority Report.

In Edge of Tomorrow, which is based on a Japanese science fiction light novel All You Need Is Kill, Cruise stars as Major William Cage, a public relations officer for the army in a world invaded by aliens, though they do not invade in the way you expect aliens to invade. These creatures are bestial and animal-esque, to the point where I’d call what happened to our planet an infestation rather than an invasion. That’s one of the many ways this movie plays with cliches, providing a different kind of threat that is far more random and even more dangerous.

Cage is not an action hero, as a matter of fact he has no wish to be on the frontlines of a big human mission to push back the aliens, that is in every possible way a sci-fi Normandy, but there he goes. Within five minutes, he’s dead. And then he wakes up. Everytime he heads into the invasion he is killed and everytime he is killed he wakes up the day before. I was surprised by the amount of times they show Cage failing, dying and doing it all again, but the script by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth is clever to the point where the writers are clearly having fun with the repetition.

Some of the deaths are incredibly funny, some come with precious knowledge and there is never a point in the movie where I thought we were wasting time seeing Cage repeat the same day over and over again, that in itself is quite the achievement. There is, of course, no way you can’t trace lines back to videogames with the concept of dying and repeating. Edge of Tomorrow evokes that familiar feeling of failing, failing, then finally succeeding and feeling like you’re on top of the world. And of course whenever the routine is broken and we get a different sequence with characters reaching a new frontier, there is a welcome freshness to the story that is bound to end the moment we realize a new danger approaches the characters. Thanks to the way the movie is structured, reaching a narrative-uncharted territory in Edge of Tomorrow is really satisfying.

This is director Doug Liman’s most ambitious action movie so far and that’s where he shines the most. The way the battles are shot makes them incredibly fun and the movie rarely manages to keep the action clear when it gives us the notion of hurry and danger. Liman also nails one of the most basic sci-fi rules by creating a believable atmosphere. The technology we see here could easily be right around the corner, and the exosuits used by the human soldiers help sell that we could actually fight these things on an even battlefield.

To become a fighter and change the outcome of the battle, Cage is trained by Rita, played by Emily Blunt, who is for my money the real star here. Blunt has an incredible energy in the role, and she totally nails the physicality too. Rita is a badass, but not an unlikable badass, she was forged by fire and there is a heavy weight on her eyes. Whenever she is on-screen, there is no doubt she’s the action hero, and I have to admit I never envisioned Blunt doing it, but there’s no doubt her agent will be hearing from both Marvel and DC really soon. Cruise also does a really nice job, it’s nice to see him become the hero we’re used to see him play. The writers make interesting choices with his character and Cruise rises to the occasion delivering his best work in years.

If there’s anything this tight script misses, it’s ending on the right note. There is an entire sequence that could entirely be cut off the movie and I think the result would ultimately be more enjoyable, but instead we got a conclusion that feels bland and very Hollywood-like. It doesn’t ruin the movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it also fails to close it on a high note. Regardless, Edge of Tomorrow is a fun movie, but it’s also a really interesting and fresh take on a familiar idea that mixes it with a well realized sci-fi world.