Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he knows how to make entertaining films. Yeah, yeah. There are some Knight & Day and Rock Of Ages anomalies in there. However, you would be hard pressed to go through his filmography and find a film of his that you didn’t at least think was fun. From the grossly underrated Oblivion, to the pulpy Jack Reacher, to the exhilarating Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise STILL can make films that are exciting and fun. Edge Of Tomorrow is no different. It is a THROWBACK to some of the balls to the wall sci-fi action films I grew up watching as a kid. Aliens, Total Recall, Terminator, etc. It takes a sci-fi concept and blends it with great action set pieces and smart dialogue, hello Christopher McQuarrie, to create a film that gets you munching popcorn in the theater like a rabid woodchuck.
Edge of Tomorrow, based on the way better titled book All You Need Is Kill, tells the story of a cowardly soldier forced onto the front lines of a war against an alien invasion. Through a miraculous set of circumstances, he gains the power to reset the day every time he gets killed. With every reset, the soldier learns the skill and the courage he will need to defeat the aliens and save humanity. And yes, I’ll be the one millionth person to use the analogy…IT’S GROUNDHOG’S DAY WITH ALIENS AND MACHINE GUNS! Although, I see Edge Of Tomorrow as a little less complex than that. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character becomes a better person on the inside through use of the recycling days. Edge Of Tomorrow uses it’s time traveling concept mainly for the goal of defeating the enemy. Some personal growth is there, but most of it takes a back seat to the mission at hand. You might think that I’m saying that this is a bad thing, but I honestly think it works here. The movie never slows down and the repeated timeline gimmick never becomes tedious or, ironically, predictable.
Tom Cruise’s performance in this is…well…very Tom Cruise. He doesn’t break ground on any particularly new territory here. But this is a film where he doesn’t really have to be anything other than Tom Cruise. The biggest range of acting we get from Cruise is seeing him actually portray a coward. Despite his long history as a leading man, this is something we rarely get to see him play and he does it quite well.
The biggest weak spot for me in Tom Cruise’s other recent sci-fi film Oblivion was that the connection he has with actress Olga Kurylenko didn’t feel that strong to me. Their chemistry just wasn’t right. On the other hand, Emily Blunt is literally chemistry personified. By that I mean she seems to just have amazing chemistry with every leading man they put her up against. Whether it’s the chemistry she has with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper, or the insane amount of chemistry she has with Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau. Seriously, watch that film again. The bathroom scene between her and Damon is a textbook example of what onscreen chemistry looks like. Blunts powers once again come into play because every scene with her and Cruise is great. Surprisingly, some of the scenes where they are just talking are as entertaining as the scenes where they are blowing things away. Maybe it would have been better if Blunt was in Oblivion and Olga was in Edge, seeing as Oblivion is more dependent on the chemistry between the two leads than Edge Of Tomorrow is. But I digress.
The rest of the supporting cast fill in their roles well. Bill Paxton is just as humerus as he needs to be, and the members of Cruise’s J Squad are memorable and entertaining enough in their limited screen time to stick with you. I was so hoping for Paxton to appear later in the film during an airdrop into alien territory so as to assuage my Aliens similarities fetish, but alas.
For as competent of an action director Doug Liman is, he really flies under the radar. This is likely due to him focusing more on producing than directing as of late. However, this is still the man who brought Jason Bourne to the silver screen. Hell, his romantic action comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the reason that there is such a thing as Brangelina. Liman can do action, and he does it well here. There is nothing as eye jarringly exhausting as Neill Blomkamp’s other exosuit extravaganza Elysium. Just solid set pieces with thrilling, coherent action beats. This saddens me because Edge Of Tomorrow will probably be the last action film I’ll see before Michael Bay’s new Transformers movie maces my eyeballs.
Edge Of Tomorrow fully embraces the summer popcorn flick philosophy while still delivering enough smart dialogue and concepts to keep you guessing. It isn’t interested with hitting you over the head with social commentary or a heavy handed message. It just wants to entertain you over and over again. Grab an extra mag…an extra battery…don’t get injured anywhere near Emily Blunt…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.