If it is summertime, then Tom Cruise must be saving the world from an alien invasion again, and so it goes with Edge of Tomorrow, the new sci-fi flick that is a cross between Groundhog Day and War of the Worlds, with some Elysium style exoskeleton action thrown in for good measure.
The trailers for this movie looked great and the film, as directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) delivers on its promise, and much more. On top of incredible special-effects and thrilling action sequences, this is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen this year, which was a complete and pleasant surprise.
Cruise plays Major William Cage, a military Public Relations Officer tasked with recruiting efforts in the war against the “Mimics,” an alien race that has the ability to twist time to their advantage, giving them an edge in their conflict against the human race.
At a turning point in the war, Major Cage is ordered to embed with Marines being dropped into a D-Day like battle to secure a vital European beachhead; but the Major prefers to serve behind the lines and when he tries to desert he is knocked unconscious and wakes up on the tarmac of the forward operating base, stripped of his rank and treated as prisoner.
Cage has no practical training or fighting experience, but nevertheless his is strapped into a battle-suit and is sent on a suicide mission with his new unit. He is quickly killed, but before dying his blood is mixed with that of an Alpha Mimic; and once he expires the time-altering properties of the alien’s DNA allows the cowardly soldier to wake-up once again on the runway of the base and repeat the scenario over again.
This is where it gets fun, as Cage relives the same day again and again, becoming progressively more competent and skilled in battle after each death he experiences. He eventually hooks-up with a battle-hardened Special Forces hero, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who once experienced the alien’s time-traveling blood-mix herself, and the two devise a way to use the power to save the planet.
If you think too hard, you can probably find holes in the movie’s premise, but it’s too much fun to worry about whether it all makes perfect sense. The story is loosely based on the award-winning manga graphic novel, “All You Need is Kill,” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, but the premise of the film plays out like it could have easily been inspired by a video game, where you have the ability to restart your life at the last save point prior to being killed.
The look of the aliens is sufficiently new and unusual (they are kind of like a super-powered octopus), and the film’s battle suits, which play a major part in the movie’s action sequences, are extremely cool. The “destroy the aliens by killing the core of their hive-mind” routine makes for a pretty run-of-the-mill climax, but there is enough excitement happening in this movie that it didn’t really bother me.
Cruise and Blunt work great together, and love him or hate him as a person, Mr. Cruise is still an awesome movie star at the top of his game – he is my generation’s John Wayne. I can’t remember the last Cruise movie that I wasn’t completely entertained by (maybe Cocktail), and this is one of his best. The actor perfectly pulls off Cage’s arc from smarmy coward to first-class world-saving superhero.
Any complaints I have about the Edge of Tomorrow plot are minor at best and overshadowed by the movie’s overall wow factor. I suggest that you just watch it, enjoy it, and repeat. This is state-of-the-art Saturday morning popcorn-crunching film fun. Grade: 8.5/10
Photos © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.