“...delivers the goods with ferocity and a funny bone..."

Groundhog Day Goes to War

(061314) "Edge of Tomorrow” plays like a ‘roided up “Groundhog Day,” yet beyond the similar daily reset concept, the latest film from director Doug Liman heads in an entirely different direction. The story doesn’t concern the warming of a heart, but the fate of the planet and a study of courage, loaded into a summer blockbuster that values quick pace and big action, keeping star Tom Cruise a very busy man during the mayhem. Inventive and irresistible at times, “Edge of Tomorrow” is more of a carnival ride than offering of drama, whipping back and forth as an alien invasion picture while guns roar, ships crash, and death is merely the first step to a uniquely fulfilling life.

In the near future, an alien race, known as the Mimics, have arrived in Earth, gradually conquering Europe with a special ability to reset the day to help predict human combat methods. On the eve of a D-Day-style invasion in England, meant to wipe out the Mimics for good, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) has found himself disgraced and forced into a battle he isn’t prepared for. Stuffed into a special weaponized suit, Cage is dropped into the middle of hell, soon coming face to face with a special breed of Mimic he manages to kill while sacrificing himself. Waking up at the start of the day, Cage gradually realizes he’s been endowed with special alien powers that allow him access to the reset, launching himself into a routine of discovery and practice to help prevent needless deaths during the devastating conflict. Cage’s only hope to break the cycle is Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a war hero (the “Angel of Verdun”) who once possessed the same foresight, teaming with the rattled soldier to help sharpen his skill and use it against the enemy.

After flirting with Oscar bait in the 2010 failure, “Fair Game,” Liman returns to the action genre that helped to solidify his career, dating back to 2002’s “The Bourne Identity.” Based on the Japanese novel: ”All You Need Is Kill”, “Edge of Tomorrow” offers Liman a massive playground of violence and mischief to explore, tasked with envisioning an alien invasion featuring mechanical creatures who speedily buzz around the frame, lashing out with multiple tentacles as they mow down heavily armed soldiers. Never one to turn down some cinematic roughhousing, Liman guides “Edge of Tomorrow” to screen chaos early and often, following Cage as he experiences lectures from his new commanding officer, Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton), hazing from fellow grunts, and paralyzing confusion as he’s fitted for a bulky combat “jacket,” loaded with weapons he doesn’t know how to use. The audience, following Cage’s baptism of bullets, is plunged into warfare after a brief introduction (establishing the character’s media savvy and his fixation on self-preservation), providing a crisp understanding of the man’s limitations.

The time loop concept works rather well in “Edge of Tomorrow,” as long as one doesn’t think about it too deeply. To counteract iffy sci-fi reason, Liman invests in speed and blunt brutality, with Cage’s death necessary to restart the day, watching the terrified man endure mistakes as he works out the possibility of escape and studies alien attack patterns. With every casualty, Cage is snapped back to reality, reliving the same day over and over, occasionally assisted by Rita, who happily puts a bullet into her partner’s brain to speed up the process after training failures and mission mistakes. The screenplay treats the resets as dark comedy, emphasizing Cage’s learning curve as he volleys between life and death, forced to turn this ghoulish gift into an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Editorial timing and willingness to play up the humorous side of the screenplay are Liman’s gifts, giving “Edge of Tomorrow” the jolts it needs to preserve pace and work through the fatigue of repetition. It’s a blistering actioner, but also a breezy picture for most of its run time, keeping adrenaline flowing and oddity stoked, having fun with Cage’s circular lifespan.

“Edge of Tomorrow” does develop an addiction to noise for its finale, and the overall film is more agreeable as a widescreen joy ride, likely falling apart under intense scrutiny (Liman and logic have never been the best of friends). But so much of the movie clicks together beautifully, including Cruise’s finely bewildered performance and Blunt’s transformation into a believable battlefield barbarian, complete with dragging broadsword. The mechanized jackets are also worth the price of admission -- a superb blend of costuming and visual effects that generates blunt force appeal to human vs. alien hostilities. Despite some quibbles, “Edge of Tomorrow” delivers the goods with ferocity and a funny bone, capturing intensity through the colorful details of involuntary rehearsal.

Directed by:    Doug Liman
Written by:    Screenplay by: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez
 Butterworth, & John-Henry Butterworth. Based on
 the novel "All You Need Is Kill" by Hiroshi
Starring:    Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Released:    06/06/14 (USA)
Length:    113 minutes
Rating:    PG13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and
 violence, language and brief suggestive material

All Rights Reserved

Review © 2022 Alternate Reality, Inc.

(aka "Old Reviews")