by Karina “Cinerina” Montgomery, contributing writer
Cinerina Rating:Matinee with Snacks
I’ll be honest: my companions and I didn’t have very high expectations for this movie – you don’t need to relive the same day over and over to remember how often you’ve been burned before. How can the director of Swingers (OK, he made the Bourne Identity, too) make a sci-fi Groundhog Day feel fresh and interesting? Well, kids, he did! Based on Hiroshi Sakurakaza’s novel All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow creates an exciting piece of entertainment from solid raw materials and the video game aesthetic taking over Hollywood. It’s fun, well-paced, and surprisingly very funny as well.
You probably already know the premise: Tom Cruise and every soldier on earth are fighting this unstoppable alien menace, but Cruise starts to reset each day, thereby learning and gaining an advantage on the enemy. Emily Blunt is humanity’s face of hope in this war because she actually won a battle against their crushing forces, and now Cruise has the tools to finish it. Thus begins the resemblance to first-person shooter combat games. You die, you learn, you try again, you get further. If only in Bioshock you could chat your way out of enduring the monologues again like Cruise does here.
It’s a high concept, but easily grokked. Director Doug Liman and his screenwriting and editing teams handle the necessary repetitiveness of this premise beautifully and often quite hilariously. Bang! Maggot! Bang! Maggot! When Act 3 comes, the stakes and mechanics change just when they must, moving the story forward and keeping the pace from ever dragging. The necessary steps to get new information and feel his own time pass are dealt with quite elegantly and efficiently.
Cruise plays Maj. William Cage, a middle management PR guy, all talk and no game, forced into action in the center of the resistance. He’s the ultimate reluctant hero and none of his trademark moves work. It was delightful watching gruff general Brendan Gleeson be completely immune to what Cage surely thought was his best move, especially if you’re also thinking about Cruise the talk show guest. American treasure Bill Paxton is Cage’s CO, taking no guff and cracking us like Private Hudson all grown up. All of Cage’s younger and fitter squad bully and tower over him and it serves to drive home that Movie Star And Action Hero Tom Cruise is not in this movie. Liman uses his lead’s age, his stature, and his polished Hollywood face perfectly. Blunt and scientist Noah Taylor play the only people who could believe or help him understand – or harness – what Cage has been going through, and are the primary engines of Act 2’s momentum. Blunt knows her supersoldier moment was a lucky fluke but also knows that fluke, now in Cage, is the key to humanity’s survival, and can see through Cage’s eyes and know when he’s been there before.
The aliens themselves, known as Mimics, are new and exciting looking, terrifying tentacled electric bears, extra tentacles please. I’ve tired of these Cloverfield-Kaiju monsters that have been in vogue for a while. One of my companions noted that the Mimics’ kinetics were such that you couldn’t really tell what they were doing in a given moment – they just descend like Chthonic tumbleweeds of death and then Cage resets. I interpret this as a choice to make the Mimics feel like their prescient actions would seem in battle – they move before you can even react to their last move, seeming impossibly fast and unpredictable. In retrospect, perhaps that also adds to the FPS game feel – the shooter games I watch my friends play seem so busy and incomprehensible to me, and that’s part of the adrenaline rush of play (and war) – parsing out the true danger in all the noise.
It was fun discussing the timelines in terms of plot elements and salient dialogue, and working out the logistics of why this when that. It’s a fun ride, but not an empty one at all. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie and I suspect you will as well!
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release date: 6/6/14
Time in minutes: 113
Director: Doug Liman
Studio: Warner Brothers