EDGE OF TOMORROW
**** (out of 5)
June 6, 2014
Tom Cruise as CAGE
Emily Blunt as RITA
Brendan Gleeson as GENERAL BRIGHAM
Bill Paxton as MASTER SERGEANT FARELL
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Doug Liman
BY KEVIN CARR
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While Tom Cruise is still one of the last surviving movie stars from the 1980s (who actually has a career, that is), he hasn’t exactly been topping the box office name only. Not for lack of trying, mind you. However, after duds like “Rock of Ages” and “Jack Reacher,” as well as moderately disappointing sci-fi epics like last year’s “Oblivion,” it’s clear that he still needs a great movie behind him to pop out as a star again.
Fortunately, we get that from him in “Edge of Tomorrow.” Of course, the success of “Edge of Tomorrow” does not lie singularly on Cruise or his star power. The movie also has a solid script, a deft director in Doug Liman, and a strong co-star in Emily Blunt. Put those ingredients together, and you get Cruise’s best movie since “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.”
“Edge of Tomorrow” is based on the novel and later magna adaptation “All You Need Is Kill,” and while it had its name changed for sake of marketing (which was a wise choice, no matter what the purists may say), it has some really smart elements left in. And that’s one hell of a daring choice for a mainstream film going for the widest audience possible.
The story follows a military captain named Cage (Cruise) who works in the public relations branch. After hyping a war against an invading group of aliens, Cage is ordered to report to the front lines. When he protests, he is arrested and dropped into the general infantry, ready to deploy. When the troops invade, it is a slaughter, and everyone dies… including Cage.
However, that’s just the beginning of the story. Cage discovers that he has the unique ability to repeat the last day over again… and again… and again. Not sure why he has been given this power, he begins to work with Rita (Emily Blunt), a war hero who used to have the power as well. Together, they try to train him to fight and find a way to win the battle with knowledge of the future.
“Edge of Tomorrow” is hard science fiction with high concepts and some pretty smart writing. Considering this is aiming for the audience that had trouble wrapping their brains around the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream premise of “Inception,” “Edge of Tomorrow” does a fine job distilling its own premise to a “Groundhog Day” version of military sci-fi.
In the end, “Edge of Tomorrow” has strong acting from a surprisingly small cast (which makes sense considering many of the scenes are repeats and re-dos of previous ones). It also features some stellar special effects, ranking it up there with last year’s “Pacific Rim” as one of the most deliciously exciting films to watch in the summer months.
Even Cruise, who tends to cheese things up in his movies by simply playing a version of grinning Tom Cruise from “Risky Business,” knocks it out of the park. It’s not that he stops being grinning Tom Cruise. Rather, the film seems made for this kind of character in the lead role. Plus, he’s gotten past the need to demand an out-of-place shirtless scene to prove he still has a fit body.
The only wrinkle that comes into the film – and this is often the case with high-concept science fiction that needs to wrap things up in a short two-hour running time – is the final act, which isn’t nearly as smart as the first two. Still, it’s ultimately satisfying and a strong conclusion to the movie itself.
So far, the summer of 2014 has been filled with soft performances and disappointments. However, along with “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of the films that reminds us what fun it is to go to the movies and experience adventure on the big screen.