(Originally posted on June 6, 2014 on Movieweb.com)
Tom Cruise gets a bad rap from audiences. Yes from a distance Cruise looks like he has a messed up personal life, and the whole Scientology thing that's going for him, but like Mel Gibson it does not change the fact that he's a really good if not great actor who has given some memorable if not outstanding performances in Taps, Minority Report, Born on the Fourth of July, Interview with the Vampire, Collateral, and continues to do so here in Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow shedding off the laid back, dashing, and fearless Cruise many have come to detest giving one of his best performances in years in a masterfully done smart sci-fi thriller that blends elements from Groundhogs Day, Starship Troopers and Gears of War.
Loosely based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka's All You Need Is Kill Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow brings a thrilling dark edge to a concept originating from Bill Murray's hilarious Groundhogs Day about waking up day after day endlessly except Major William Cage (Cruise) isn't a selfish egotistical man, but a cowardly military new reporter. Before the war with the Mimics, Cage was ran a television show, but then a meteorite crashed landed on Earth in Europe releasing an alien race called the Mimics who quickly attack humans and can seemed to never be defeated until miraculously European forces with the inexperienced Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) in the lead defeat the Mimics at Verdun. With the recent major victory against the mysterious aliens the world powers plan a major operation to defeat the Mimics.
Cage of course has no interest of front line battles or filming them preferring as the coward that he is to report the news from a safe distance. Unfortunately for Cage military brace have other plans for him and the hilarity begins as he is thrown into the front lines meeting Kentucky born Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome with who Bill Paxton played wonderfully with zany fearlessness. The so called retaking of Europe is a complete failure as the Mimics somehow knew where and win the invasion was coming. Countless soldiers die, but not without Cage killing large blue alien that spews his blood all over Cage who quickly dies in pain only to wake up at the start of the day when he first arrived at the military set up base. Understandably Cage has no idea what is happening as he relives the same day again only to die, and wake up again. Cage continues to relive the same day sometimes trying to tell Bartolome and his fellow men what is happening or that the invasion will fail, but obviously no one believes him, and Cage continues to die only to only to come back to life, which some are hilarious like being run over by a military truck, having a plane land on top of him, a broken back, and many others that I'm sure will make Tom Cruise haters happy.
As fate would have after reliving the day countless times Cage runs into and saves Rita Vrataski only for Rita to tell Cage to come find her when he wakes up, and then they both dies, and things get real interesting then as the plot involves some strange sort of time travel, but I'll leave it there as I don't want to give too much away about this beautifully filmed film. The script is really well written masterfully mixing sci-fi elements with drama, action and humor. That's not to say that the script was perfect as there was what I thought one glaring plot hole. I can't go into detail about it as it is a major plot point taking place about two thirds way through the film having to deal with the aliens and the use of time manipulation. I'll have to see Edge of Tomorrow again to see if it makes sense, but as of right now this plot and scene made no sense, and hurt my overall score of the film.
Still with the flaw in the plot Edge of Tomorrow is still a great film. The script again is nearly masterfully done, and the acting was superb as well. Cruise gives a wonderful understated performance as Cage releasing that he isn't so much the star of the film as the action, plot, and sci-fi elements are. The same can be said for Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski who is perhaps the real star of Edge of Tomorrow gives a fantastic performance as a character coping with being cursed and blessed with the ability to relieve days over again and again, and you can see on screen the physical and especially the psychologically toll it takes on Rita and Cage as they are force to relieve these days dozes and hundreds of times trying to defeat the Mimics, but being force to watch their comrades they know like family, but who don't know them, and the ones they love die over and over again. Again that's not to say the casting or acting was perfect as outside of Cruise, Blunt and Paxton there wasn't much character development for the supporting characters, which I guess is a flaw for a type of film like Edge of Tomorrow. When a character relives the day over, and over again there isn't much room for the audience to care about the supporting characters or character grown. Sure Doug Liman and the writers tried to bring the supporting characters to life, and at times they did, but ultimately they were story props for the script and stars.
Fortunately for the flaws in the plot and characters/acting is exceptionally made up for in the action, effects and the terrifying Mimics. There are many action sequences in Edge of Tomorrow that include ones at the Louvre, London, and many or one huge one on the beaches of France as Cage has to fight the same battle over and over again. You would think having to witness the same battle many times would become stale, but director Doug Limen manages to bring freshness to each action sequences that slightly if not majorly alter the battle we witness. The effects are beautifully rendered that include the exoskeletons that the army uses, and the Mimics that look like creatures out of a nightmare.
Edge of Tomorrow is the best film on the summer and one of the best films of the year as director Doug Limen returns to form of his earlier films as Go, The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and aided by great writing that masterfully mixes many different genres into a smart well-paced sci-fi film, and action and special effects that are awe inspiring, gut wrenching, and terrifying. The performances by Cruise, Blunt, and Paxton make up any deficiencies in the acting and script as all three give accelerating performances that make you feel the plight and sympathies with the characters. Cruise brings freshness to his performance that audiences haven't seen in many years. Blunt shows she's more than a pretty face as a true actions star that will hopefully make other studios like Marvel and Disney take notice, and Paxton who shows even after all these years in action can still bring it when he needs to. All that combined makes Edge of Tomorrow a film that shouldn't be missed.