Edge of Tomorrow deals with the idea of... not exactly time travel, per se but something more along of the lines of "time repetition"; re-living the same day/event over, and over, and over again. For the sake of scientific conversation though, let's take a trip back in time to a very specific date: Monday, May 23, 2005.
In my very best Neil deGrasse Tyson voice: "Come with me..."
On this Spring day, the sun may or may not have been shining, you might have run out of hot water in the shower, and maybe you even burnt your toast that morning however inside this particular Chicago television studio, none of that matters. Inside this now historic, professionally decorated, and immaculately lit studio, something is about to happen that will alter the course of a career forever. The howls of a predominantly female audience reaches near rock concert decibel levels as a handsome man clad stylishly in black emerges onto the stage, waving and smiling with such vigor and conviction you'd think he had personal history with everyone there. Cheering mightily, standing on their feet, and clapping excitedly, this lucky crowd of normal, every day people are laying their eyes on the biggest movie star in the world.
Tom Cruise is today's guest on Oprah.
What occurred over the course of the next five minutes would have ramifications that would affect not only how that studio audience would see Mr. Cruise from that point on but the rest of the planet as well. A finely upholstered leather love seat was violated as a man with boyish charisma leapt onto it, barely able to contain himself as he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes to America's favourite daytime host. He clasped hands with her as he faux-wrestled Oprah down onto the couch, laughing like a madman, completely losing his mind like a child with his first crush on a playground.
History was made that day, and countless headlines would follow. Was this the kind of mark Cruise would have liked to have left though? If he could re-live that day, would he do anything different? Could he change the future? I can't speak for the man himself but if I were him, I think I might have done some things a little differently because after that day, on the following Tuesday, nothing would ever be the same. His popularity dipped, his star began to wane, and all people seemed to care about after the "couch incident" was what kind of loony behavior the actor was getting up to in his personal life. It suddenly became less about his movies and more about the rumours surrounding his relationships. Less about being entertained on the big screen, or in the comforts of home, and more about his religion.
Nearly ten years have passed, and still so many can't seem to move on. This is extremely unfortunate because if there were a stronger public perception of Tom Cruise then I am positive more people would be excited to see Edge of Tomorrow--theatres would be packed, and audiences would be buzzing. Instead, one of the very best movies of the year, and easily one of the best sci-fi films in years is struggling at the domestic box office. A third place debut for a man who used to consistently open at #1--how times have changed.
Edge of Tomorrow is a masterclass of genre filmmaking, from top to bottom, this is a movie that I strongly urge you to check out on the biggest screen possible. Not only is this my favourite film of the year so far, it's something that I can easily see myself having a triple-feature of alongside Aliens, and Starship Troopers--it's that damn good. This is one of the best James Cameron movies that James Cameron never made although perhaps it's the supporting role played by Bill Paxton, or the power armor the marines wear that makes me utter something so bold. Yeah, it could be that.
Cruise plays Maj. Bill Cage, an American PR man who has never seen a day of combat in his life, and if he had it his way, he'd like it to remain that way. This is a different role for the actor to portray because normally Cruise is used to playing the hero but here Cage is nothing but a coward. I really enjoyed this role reversal, and it was a lot of fun to see an actor who is used to saving the day instead acting like a jerk, and coming up with any excuse possible to save his own ass. Too bad for him it's that exact behavior that gets him into trouble with Brendan Gleeson's General Brigham, who swiftly demotes him to Private, and orders Cage to the front lines of the impending beach assault on the alien horde. It's during this spectacular assault scene, reminiscent of a sci-fi 'Saving Private Ryan', that Cage, through dumb luck, manages to kill an extremely rare alien that leaks its blood onto him, fusing with his own, allowing him to re-awaken the day prior each time he is killed.
Surely, you've played a videogame where each time you die, you re-spawn at a specific point however you now have knowledge of how to better progress, and hopefully not get your head blown off in the same place. Sounds familiar, yes? That's basically the power that is bestowed upon Cruise's Bill Cage--unlimited resets. Re-living the same battle hundreds of times over could totally turn one into a hell of a badass killing machine, right? Abso-frickin-lutely! The scenes where Cage nonchalantly kills everything on the beach are so awesome, and hilarious to witness from the points of view of his squad mates who, in their minds, this is a pretty-boy Private who only just joined up with them! I should add that aside from some jaw-dropping action scenes, expertly directed by Doug Liman, you also get a very healthy dose of genuine humour, and I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions. You don't like Tom Cruise? Great, come see him get killed repeatedly! Some of his deaths are a howl, one in particular that is capped off with a knee-slapping reaction by Bill Paxton's Major Sergeant Farell that I'm chuckling about right now as I think about it.
In the best James Cameron movies, a strong female character is usually front and center, and it seems Doug Liman is on the same wave length here. Emily Blunt's Lt. Rita Vrataski will, in time, enter the pantheon of truly great, and strong female asskickers like Sarah Connor, and Ellen Ripley. Some big words right there, I know but I really loved her character as I legitimately believed her tough-as-nails persona, and her chemistry with Cruise was spot on. Now, if you're concerned that the movie is going to force these two together by the end, and it's going to get all schmaltzy then let me put your mind at ease because this isn't that kind of flick. Yes, they do kiss but it's earned, it fits, and you're glad when it happens. Rita essentially trains Cage each day into becoming the perfect weapon, and many of the film's biggest laughs come from her having to put a bullet in his head any time he becomes injured, or whines about something that rubs her the wrong way. Lots of great stuff here.
The special effects are top notch, the sound design is fantastic, and the script chugs along with zero lulls, and minimal plot holes. This is a rare breed of a big-budget blockbuster where what's on the page matches the brilliance of the visuals on the screen--a real treat in this day and age of hollow thrills, especially during the summer movie season. If you're a fan of genre films, this is one not to miss, and if you do then I hope your home theatre set up is powerful enough to rattle the fillings out of your neighbours teeth while they're watching The Good Wife two houses over. Big sound, and big spectacle is what this flick is all about, and isn't that why so many of us became enamoured in film in the first place? Movies like this started us off on a path to where we are today, so get out there, plunk your butt in a seat, and get ready to have a blast!