Review: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Rewrites Smart Summer Action

"Edge of Tomorrow" (2014) - Movie Review - We Live Film

“Edge of Tomorrow” Rewrites Smart Summer Action

Tom Cruise hasn’t had the most solid string of films recently. Broadway musical adaptation, Rock of Ages hardly clicked with audiences two summers ago. Jack Reacher and Oblivion didn’t fare much better. Diving headfirst into his latest flick, Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise faces the unexpected challenge of an underdog.

Edge of Tomorrow finds its inspiration from Japanese manga, All You Need is Kill. Tomorrow takes place in the future as humanity is at war with aliens called Mimics. Cruise enters the picture as Major Cage, a spokesman for the United Defense Forces. He’s never seen battle up close and personal, nor has the desire to either.

After a meeting with his UDF superior (Brendan Gleeson), Cage is forced to join the troops on the beaches of France. Now labeled a coward for his insubordination, Cage is transferred to a military base unprepared for the alien attack. Watching Cruise in this sort of role is a bit distracting, considering his history. On the French beaches, he has no clue what he’s doing, rendering him dead within five minutes.

Can the creatives behind Edge of Tomorrow kill off Tom Cruise after 15 minutes in? Of course not. Cage’s death transports him back to the beginning of the day with another chance to stop the war. This is where Edge of Tomorrow starts treading on other time loop films like Groundhog Day or Source Code.

The first couple times Cage dies (yes, a couple), the changes are subtle with little progression. It’s as if we’re playing a video game and getting killed by the next nagging minion onscreen. The restart button can only go so far before it’s time to take an alternate course of action. Cage gets far enough into the battle to cross paths with the army’s poster child (Emily Blunt) before dying again. But now, with her as an ally in tow, surviving looking slightly better.

SEE ALSO: Edge of TomorrowReview by Daniel Rester

It’s been a while since Cruise has had a co-star as talented as Emily Blunt. Blunt  hasn’t had much experience in action films outside 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau and 2012’s Looper. Here, she revels in this action-heavy role, breaking down barriers the likes we haven’t seen since Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay doesn’t write her as a pseudo girl-power fantasy either. Her presence is genuine, many times even upstaging Cruise.

She and Cruise keep the film grounded with their exceptional chemistry. Even with generic tentacled aliens wreaking havoc, there’s still a powerful human element at Edge of Tomorrow’s heart. Subsequently, Edge of Tomorrow works harder than any other film this summer to raise the bar. The bond between the two goes much deeper fighting side by side to survive. And to one’s surprise, it’s done without a forced romantic subplot.

Edge of Tomorrow could have headed south countless times. Its derivative plot has been attempted plenty of times before. Here the way the film unfolds still feels fresh. Credit goes to director Doug Liman, who’s experience in helming action films adds to Edge of Tomorrow’s success. The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith tapped into Liman’s potential. In a sense, those films were just practice for the full onslaught of two hours of smart action.

Round after round on the beach, the repetition is intended for a tedious sequence. Brush that aside and the intimate cinematography in the heart of battle is an exhilarating good time.

After all the blood, sweat and tears, the payoff of the film is smooth sailing. It’s a jarring turn of events in an otherwise, sleek looking summer film.

GRADE: A- (9/10)

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