Sunday, June 8, 2014
It's impossible to write or speak about Edge of Tomorrow without mentioning the obvious connections to Bill Murray's comedy classic Groundhog Day (and to a lesser extent, 2011's underrated Source Code). But Edge of Tomorrow never suffers from the similarities--if anything it thrives with them. The film begins in typical apocalyptic movie fashion: images of destruction and war and an unknown alien force flash across news screens, as Cruise's character (Maj. William Cage) spins a PR campaign with every reporter and newscaster for a pro-military intervention against the unknown force. Cage's biggest character flaw (and one of his biggest fears) is being involved in actual combat. So when a cocky general (portrayed by the great Brendan Gleeson) forces him to go to the front lines, Cage resists, is tasered, and wakes up in handcuffs at a military base near where a D-Day-style beach storming is about to happen the next day.
Cage gets thrown into battle, a chaotic storm of bullets, mech suits, bombs and lightning-fast slithering aliens called Mimics, only to die quickly, covered in an exploded Mimic's blood. But then he wakes up, handcuffed again, at the military base the day before. He meets the same people, gets harassed by the same Sergeant (a having-fun Bill Paxton), and gets thrown into the same group of soldiers. Only to go back into battle and die again. Wake up, die. Learn a little more. Wake up. Die. Learn a little more. Repeat. On the battlefield he meets Rita (Emily Blunt as a kick-ass heroine), the public face of the assault on the aliens, who seems to know what is happening to Cage. She tells Cruise to come find her when he wakes up, and this interaction sets in motion the majority of the mind-bending film.
Sure, in a film where the main character has to live the same day over and over again (maybe for thousands and thousands of times--you never really find out) there are going to be plot holes and derivative scenes that seem too familiar. Even the title sucks: Edge of Tomorrow. It was originally titled All You Need is Kill, the same name of the Japanese graphic novel which it is based. But who cares? This is an original film (not a sequel or reboot) that is imaginative and exciting in a sea of films which are the opposite of that. And by the looks of the blockbusters coming out in the next three months, it might be one of the best of the summer. (B+)