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Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi offering Edge of Tomorrow is a movie that should tick a lot of fanboy boxes: it’s based on a popular Japanese novel turned Manga, has a bad-ass woman and most importantly it has an army of people in heavily armed mech suits.
In the near future an alien race known as the Mimics have invaded Earth and taken over most of Europe. After heavy losses humanity has been able to fight back by giving soldiers Mech suits and one soldier becomes the symbol of the war effort, Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), earning herself nicknames like The Angel of Verdun and Full Metal Bitch. On the media front Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) leads the press and recruitment operation.
The United Defence Force plan a massive invasion of France from England and Cage is arrested and demoted to private when he refuses to fight on the frontline as an officer. The invasion is a fiasco, but Cage ends up gaining the ability to re-live the same day if he dies and with Rita’s help has to find a way to win the battle and the war.
At the time of this review Edge of Tomorrow has been earning some very positive reviews and currently has a rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is a fun popcorn flick and joins a fine collection of sci-fi movies that Cruise has made. For summer spectacle Edge of Tomorrow features what you would expect, having excellent special effects and strong action sequences. Director Doug Liman uses a handheld style as he follows the action and the invasion plays very much like sci-fi version of Saving Private Ryan and it is always fun to see an action-woman with a sword.
Edge of Tomorrow is blessed with a strong screenplay from Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. The trio of writers are smart with the time looping concept, with Cage acting believably about how he reacts to his situation, trying to prove what happened by ‘predicting’ the future, but people still think he is crazy. The writers and director have fun with the concept, playing on the fact that Cage knows upcoming events and with Cruise’s excellent comic timing supplying some humor to the proceedings.
Edge of Tomorrow does play like a computer game, and this is being said as a positive as Cage learns about the future events and finds out how to beat the next stage of his mission and find out a way to get to the next stage. Despite the concept of the repeating the same event over and over, the movie is kept fresh by showing progression through montages as Cage is trained, Cage and Rita having to survive invasion and looking for new ways to win the war.
The writers follows the famous Joseph Campbell ‘Hero With A Thousand Faces’ template and plays it well. Cage is forced into an adventure he does not want and the writers do find a decent way to accommodate Cruise’s age and still make him a frontline soldier, find a mentor, suffer pain and hardship and go into the inner most cave of the enemy.
Cruise is solid in the lead and there is a decent cast supporting him with the likes of Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton around him. Blunt is the strongest screen presence, being the stoic, no-nonsense bad-ass and mentor for Cage and having the most fun as the sword welding war hero. Blunt also brings the pain her character suffers and both Cage and Rita are characters who constantly see death and destruction.
Edge of Tomorrow is unfortunately derivative of other sci-fi movies, examples being parts of The Matrix Trilogy, Resistance: Fall of Man, Pacific Rim, Source Code and even Cruise’s own movie last year Oblivion, as well the concept from the comedy Groundhog Day.
Edge of Tomorrow is a pure popcorn movie, that has strong action and special effects and it is not afraid to be fun. However it does not bring anything new to the sci-fi action genre.