Saturday, May 2, 2015

Call it Edge of Tomorrow or Live Die Repeat: Either way, Cruise Delivers

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Director: Doug Liman

Reviewed: 18 March 2015

jamesintexas rating--***

Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise's latest film, is a fun, rollicking video game of a ride through a cool premise: It's classic Tom Cruise action wrapped up in Groundhog Day and spliced with Aliens, and it all works. It all works due to a marvelous cast, a central conceit that is straight-up fun, and a tone that allows the audience to revel in the storytelling and video game qualities of a feature film with a gigantic budget.

Cruise plays Cage, an Army Public Relations officer, who finds himself on the front lines of battle between the earth and alien sentient Matrix-like creatures. Early on, it becomes apparent that as punishments of some sort, Cage must enter the ranks of the infantry as they prepare a D-Day like assault on alien-held territory. Rita (Emily Blunt) holds the position of being the most decorated and distinguished soldier of the era, and Cage finds himself alongside her in the bloody, chaotic battle scene. When the tide of the battle turns, and Cage is destroyed, we gasp as an audience (Who kills Tom Cruise in the first twenty minutes?) and then realize that The Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie has structured the script just so in order to give Cage a chance to relive the day, to regenerate as it were, but while also maintaining his memories. So, each time Cage fights the battle, he learns and improves tactically. Let the video games and often hilarious death-montages ensue!

Doug Liman brings a freshness and a quickness to the storytelling here that is most welcome. Edge of Tomorrow is not weighed down by its plot, and I found it quite refreshing as a science fiction action film. It does not take itself too seriously. And the action is crisp and jagged at the same time, scary and always surprising. I think the ending has its flaws but in terms of execution and vision, I think the film is strong and one of my favorites of the past year. Tom Cruise knows his capabilities, and he remains exciting to watch onscreen. I chose not to get lost down the rabbit-hole of endless purgatory and when does Cage learn what he learns. Instead, I bought into the big picture, enjoyed the small moments, and saw Edge of Tomorrow for what I believe it is: action entertainment of the first-order.

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