With Jupiter Ascending getting pushed back to February Edge of the Tomorrow might be the last of the original summer action movies left standing. Yes, it’s an adaptation of a short Japanese novel, but that is still more original than the majority of sequels and and remakes taking up the rest of the summer. As such it had me very interested for it despite the lack of buzz.
It’s also an insanely interesting concept. Basically you’re getting Groundhog Day, but with mechs, aliens, Tom Cruise and Emily blunt. Throw in the underrated Doug Liman as director and you’ve got a movie that ten years ago would have been a tent pole, but instead is struggling for relevance. It shouldn’t be because other than one tragic flaw it’s an absolute blast.
Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Release Date: June 6, 2014
The film takes the concept from the book All You Need Is Kill and then tweaks the story into something Hollywood can swallow. The concept itself is fantastic. A soldier, Cage (Tom Cruise), somehow inherits the ability to jump back in time every time he dies. It’s basically the same as rebooting from a check point in a videogame. Cage jumps back again and again getting better and better at killing aliens and winning the battle. In order to do this he enlists the help (over and over again) of the war hero Rita (Emily Blunt) who helps him attempt to end the war and get out of the loop.
Edge of Tomorrow plays with its gimmick fantastically, smartly jumping back as the story unfolds in a surprisingly straightforward manner. It works in both action and humor and deftly handles what could have been an immensely complicated story. Liman keeps things crisp and easy to follow while basically shooting the same scenes repeatedly. It’s a fantastic job of keeping a movie going that could have easily gone stagnant. It also features some the more unique alien creatures I’ve seen in a while.
It helps that Cruise and Blunt are just so damn engaging. Cruise is probably at his most classic Tom Cruise-iest in this film and that’s a good thing. Charming yet full of all the stuff that makes a good action hero, it’s actually interesting to see him tackle a role where he isn’t initially a kick ass super spy. Blunt gets a bit more of the short end of the stick as she doesn’t get to play up the time jumping as much, but she definitely has some action chops in her and if anyone was the right person to play a character nicknamed Full Metal Bitch it’s Emily Blunt in this movie.
Want some really surprising news? The film is only an hour and forty minutes long, and yet it packs more character than much of the pushing-three-hour epics we’ve seen this summer. Picking up the book’s themes of death and loss quite astutely the movie plays out with characters you can actually get into. Thanks to the quick nature (for a summer action flick) you’re never left with a second to breathe or to pick apart the quandaries that any time travel movie raises. Instead your hard lined into the action and, surprisingly, both lead characters. Liman and the actors turn a tight screenplay into something more than it was on paper.
Then it all blows up. Despite the originality and Liman handling much of the action in a unique manner (the minimalist mech design is especially great) throughout the film there are hints of too much Hollywood creeping in. It’s just hints here and there: a team of ragamuffin soldiers, a bit too much slow motion romance shots, a line that makes you roll your eyes. It makes you worried as your watching and for good reason because the ending is all Hollywood when it really shouldn’t be. It’s fine to diverge from the book’s nihilistic ending as that wouldn’t have worked as well on film, but, this film’s ending is the worst kind. The kind the rejects much of the movie’s previous ideas and tone in order to please some mythical audience.
Avoiding spoilers while talking about an ending is tough, but by the time it rolls around you’ll know what is going to happen anyway. Luckily you’ll also have got to watch one of the more entertaining and creative sci-fi films to land in recent memory. The Edge of Tomorrow might not have the clout that some of the other summer movies do, but that doesn’t mean it should be missed.