June 3, 2014

Review: Tom Cruise Stands on the 'Edge of Tomorrow'

Tom Cruise Emily Blunt Doug Liman Edge of Tomorrow All You Need Is Kill

Live. Die. Repeat. That's essentially the basic premise of director Doug Liman's futuristic, repetitious war film, Edge of Tomorrow. Another is Groundhog's Day meets Saving Private Ryan with aliens and video game style storytellingTom Cruise plays the (rather quickly) disgraced Major William Cage, a military PR officer, who's absurd punishment is an irresponsible and inexplicable mission to die on the front lines of a D-Day like war offensive despite his rank and lack of training. Through some strange extraterrestrial blood magic, he repeats the very same day over and over again everytime he dies. This power unlocks the key to humanity winning the war.

All these elements make for the ultimate dissection and resurrection of Cruise as an action hero. Based on the Japanese graphic novel, All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, the strange beginning sets off the plot in motion where Cruise's ad executive turned war marketer is thrown into the midst of an unexplained alien invasion. Liman unfolds the drama and action like a video game where Cage is our first person shooter who dies repeatedly, comes back to life, learns the intricacies of the levels, and defeats the bosses. The film's influences and genre cribbing are sublimely executed from filmmakers like Paul Verhoven (Starship Troopers) to James Cameron (Terminator) with their sense of fun and imagination without taking things too seriously.

While Cruise is nicely used to his strengths as an reluctant hero, it's Emily Blunt's hero soldier who shines and soars in every scene. She's saddled with some mind-bending expositional dialogue throughout yet makes it work all while kicking ass. The repeating day, alien time travel logic slowly becomes more and more dense as the actors and action are forced out of the repeating day to deliver an underwhelming, overly undramatic final act of resolution unfitting of the fun, dynamically sublime day-after-day adventure of the first half. The revolving door of continual setup and payoff really grounds the film.

Liman gleefully constructs and reconstructs the single day of action expertly to draw on audience expectations. The exoskeleton mech suit battles are gorgeously photographed to watch and repeat the unfolding visuals. The way Edge of Tomorrow toys and indulges are expectations is playfully entertaining even as the third act devolves into a more conventional action based war story. The violent action and repeat humour is cleverly balanced well with Cruise and Blunt's intriguing, likeable performances. It's big summer fun with a tinge of thoughtfulness in its breezy sci-fi narrative executed to the highest degree.

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