The Edge of Tomorrow: Groundhog Day Meets Terminator

2014-07-10-EdgeofTomorrowMovie2014Thank you Tom Cruise for bringing reliability back to the movies. Taken for what it is, Edge of Tomorrow is pure adrenaline packed excitement. If you dare to think during this flick or try to figure out every detail of the story, your brain will hurt and the enjoyment level drops. Leave it to Tom Cruise to provide us with a cinematic summer jolt of old fashioned action and thrills. With fine support from Emily Blunt (kicking ass with authority on screen), Cruise delivers again here and makes up for the misfire that Oblivion was.

Cruise plays William Cage, a coward who doesn’t want any part of the latest mission to bring a stop to an alien invasion. He is thrown into combat against his will and when he does something unexpected on the battlefield, Cage starts reliving the day over and over again, as he dies and comes back stronger than ever each time. As a fellow movie critic said after the film, the movie is like a great video game. You play it and die, but you keep hitting reset and playing over and over again, trying to reach new levels.

As a member of the audience, we are thrust into the position of Cruise’s Cage and that is key to the enjoyment of the film. Imagine if you were picked up out of your ordinary life and thrown into a war against an enemy who could not be beaten on a fair playing field. Imagine if you kept dying over and over in different ways and you were stumped on figuring out a way to get better. It would be scary and nerve racking. That’s the trick that director Doug Liman and Cruise work on the audience here. Fear, shock and blunt force action= summer entertainment at its finest.

The film wastes little time in throwing us into the trenches. A little update on the war, followed by the situation and bang…Cruise is dropping out of an exploding airplane onto a field against whiplashing shape changing ugly tentacle swinging aliens. The running time is nearly two hours but it isn’t felt often at all. If you are holding anything in your hand, be prepared to have it pried from your grip after the credits. The thrills in this plot come hard and fast. Liman is having fun here and not trying to chase an Oscar.

The film also brings an unexpected dose of comedy and it really anchors the action and escalating plot and character development. A moment where Cruise’s hero is training with Blunt’s soldier, and begs her not to shoot him so they can continue on the mission instead of “resetting” is played very nice with Blunt warning him, “You have 10 minutes and then I am going to shoot you.” When in doubt, make someone laugh and keep things light. Edge of Tomorrow never gets too heavy and balances its mindless action with well-timed humor.

Cruise’s trick these days is convincing you he can do what his character is doing. When he isn’t trying to blow you away with acting skills, he is commanding the screen and looking at ease doing it. His bravura style of performing is refreshing in a world full of prosthetic makeup, overblown dramatic acting and boring movies. Cruise knows you know who he is so he takes advantage of it and gets dirty out there. The man makes bold steps and backs them up. He is in his comfort zone here.

Blunt is a force to be reckoned with, slipping into the rock hard skin of a seasoned soldier who sees a new life in her new ally. An actress well known for romantic stories and comedy, Blunt injects some of those understated vibes here but knows full well what the crowd is coming for and she delivers. Whether it’s wielding a gun or spinning through the air with a gigantic blade, Blunt convinced me.

Let’s put it this way. If you love Tom Cruise, this film will be a refreshing dose of kickass cinema. If you hate Cruise, at least you get to see him die a lot. He is front and center at the heart and soul of this survivor flick, and hopefully he keeps taking chances and producing engaging and entertaining films.

Edge of Tomorrow isn’t a perfect movie, but it did what it came to do and delivers on the promise of a juicy concept and an intriguing trailer. You may not want to relive it over and over, but you will appreciate the dose of excitement it provides while keeping everything light and moving.

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