CLUBBERS GUIDE TO MOVIES: EDGE OF TOMORROW
I like to call Edge of Tomorrow “Tom Cruise meets his Groundhog Day!” Heh, but don’t let that comment discourage you from seeing it. Personally, I didn’t know what to expect as the trailers just didn’t convince me, but I went to see it as a tag along and to my surprise, I liked it!
Edge of Tomorrow is an engine of entertainment. It’s practically the Energizer bunny of summer movies, but it never felt routine or automated. Every moment seems calculated to thrill, while propelling the story in different and exciting ways, and the while managing to be organic and unpredictable -even though the plot borrows from many different sources.
Unlike Tom Cruise’s previous film, Oblivion, which seemed like a Cliff Notes version of every interesting science fiction trope of the past 15 or so years, Edge of Tomorrow has a rhythm all its own. If you’re going to lift from other stories and ideas, at least do it with your own unique style, and E.O.T definitely has style.
Yes, the film copies the concept of Groundhog Day – Lieutenant Cage (Tom Cruise) dies in a massive battle fighting the alien Mimics, only to wake up at the beginning of the same day, over and over and over again! But while Groundhog Day explores weighty themes like the reinvention of a wasted life, E.O.T is much more interested in the mechanics. As Lt. Cage navigates his situation, he discovers that every day is a do-over, and, like the video game ideas that E.O.T draws from, Cage resets every day, getting closer and closer to his objective.
What Doug Liman and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth have done (based on the novel All You Need Is Kill – great title – by Hiroshi Sakurazaka) is put that feeling of videogame storytelling into cinema. We can debate all day whether or not videogames are art, but video games do have a unique way of telling a story, forcing players to experience the world on its own terms. Die and be resurrected, and try again. You not only further the story, but your own skills and understanding as well. There are movies made from established videogames that have had varying degrees of success, but E.O.T may be the first movie that I can remember where the mechanics of video games plays a major thematic point to the story.
What’s especially good is that Liman and the screenwriters have crafted a story that you will easily can get invested in. E.O.T is very engaging and fun to watch. The more times Cage dies, the closer he is to getting the day “right”, but he’s not without help. Rita (Emily Blunt) is a heroine of the war and she knows how to fight the Mimics and take the battle to them. Cage learns a lot from her, but while each day is a reset for Cage to use to grow in ability, she cannot. She is stuck in time. As it turns out, she has a bit of knowledge about Cage’s situation that both Cage and her can use to their mutual advantage.
Personally, Tom Cruise can do these kinds of movies in his sleep, but one thing Cruise has always had over other stars of his caliber is that he’s not only able to recognize a good script when he reads it, but he also is a true collaborator with his directors. He also has good chemistry with Blunt, who commands the screen just as effectively as Cruise does. Watching the two of them together is a real pleasure because both devote themselves to the project.
That is why E.O.T is great summer entertainment – it may be an engine, but it’s an engine that’s been given a lot of love and devotion by its owner. Doug Liman keeps things moving briskly, but not so rapidly that the audience can’t keep up. There are times when the audience may feel like they are one or two steps ahead of the movie, but the clockwork script and Liman’s direction throw enough curves here and there that are reassuring and exciting to watch.
There are summer movies that simply want to entertain the best way they can, and the audience doesn’t feel dumber by having seen the movie. E.O.T is smart, action-packed, funny, even moving in moments. All the fun of a good video game without the grind. The aliens are visually arresting and the effects work is impeccable. The action is coherent and quite impressive.
The performances are solid, believable, and heroic. Edge of Tomorrow excites the mind the way the best summer movies do. It’s an experience that I’ll happily repeat this summer. This movie hits the spot! Watch without worry.