EDGE OF TOMMOROW is a good movie with Tom Cruise in it, but would it be as good of a movie if Tom Cruise wasn't in it? Does EDGE OF TOMORROW use Tom Cruise's star power to gloss-over missing plot points?
Is EDGE OF TOMORROW a multi-player video movie narrative, like PRINCE OF PERSIA (2010)?
Luckily, the multiple scenarios that caused me such a headache in PERSIA's story are entirely avoided, here. (But I always have room for Gemma Arterton!)
Is EDGE OF TOMMOROW an insignificant day played over and over, like GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) directed by the late, lamented Harold Ramis?
As funny as this Bill Murray movie was, EDGE OF TOMORROW, instead, endlessly repeats a very important day over and over.
By the way, even though Murray's love interest in GROUNDHOG basically repeated her performance, here, from FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL (1994), she's perfect, so I don't really care! Even more digressively, Andi MacDowell (if you're listening, and why wouldn't you be?), happy 25th anniversary on your Loreal ad campaign: that's got to be a Guiness World Record!
So what kind of animal is EDGE OF TOMORROW, and is it worth your attention?
If you're expecting the usual Tom Cruise movie, you might be disappointed. EDGE OF TOMORROW puts Cruise into a corner right out of the gate!
Like Solomon Burke in 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2013), Cruise starts out in EDGE OF TOMORROW as a pampered peacock. There's a war on, and the General (Brendan Gleeson) wants to embed Cruise on the front line of their final push to victory. Cruise says "no". Generals don't like to hear the word "no". That's why they're Generals.
Like Solomon, Cruise is stripped of his finery and treated like The Help, just like that! EDGE OF TOMORROW does not tell us all that much about Cruise's character other than Cruise is an a** who deserves to get his a** whupped.
While this is a serviceable conceit, it does not give Cruise enough "skin in the game" for his character to be as compelling as he might have been. Cruise is self-aware enough as an actor to put in sufficient pratfalls, but these are generic pratfalls, not specific failings of his character. Cruise is a coward, here, but mostly because he doesn't like to get papercuts. Cruise does not want to be embedded on the front lines because he does not want to die in a hail of bullets. His foibles as a character do not tell us anything about him as a person, having lived a peculiar life and having experienced particular events.
Another Emily Blunt vehicle made a much-bigger emotional investment in its lead character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in LOOPER (2012).
LOOPER is a more-layered approach to this type of science fiction conceit and pays off in multiple ways that EDGE OF TOMORROW simply does not. But both of these movies recognize the value of having Blunt in the house.
The iconic "meet cute" visual from EDGE OF TOMORROW is when Cruise first meets Blunt, in the middle of her Training Area. Blunt is the hero of the war effort and is as brusque as her fearsome reputation suggests. Blunt also enjoys the character development which Cruise lacks, managing to put the movie's forward momentum in her back pocket, for the most part.
Blunt plays Mr. Miyagi (from the KARATE KID - 1984) to Cruise, making him combat-ready. But is readiness what he needs?
Like THE LAST SAMURAI (2003), Cruise becomes adept at warfare under the tutelage of a severe sensei, but then the student becomes the teacher! Or does he? Is EDGE OF TOMMOROW a war movie, a message movie, or an action movie?
In her first action movie performance, Blunt's face goes flouncy just when it needs to stay fierce. Sigourney Weaver in ALIENS (1986) is the gold standard in this kind of role, but even in LOOPER Blunt showed more intensity than she does, here.
Cruise is likable, here, and he does action like it's second nature to him (which it should be, by now, for goodness' sake), but a third act attempt to deepen his character simply does not do the trick. The repeating day motif helps Cruise to appear to be developing his character while other actors are trapped simply saying the same old lines, but even that gimmick gets played-out in the second act. Cruise needs to relearn how to play an ordinary person with simple challenges to bring the edge back to his action movies.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS has made over $100 million at the box office, while EDGE OF TOMORROW; while not a flop; is $20 million shy of that. I'm not saying that Cruise needs to contract a fatal disease on the big screen in order to get the audience back in his corner. But as a movie star, Cruise needs to get back in the kitchen of everyday people if he ever hopes to be #1, once again.