Tom Cruise summer blockbusters are always a bit hit and miss. For every Mission Impossible there’s a Knight and Day. With recent years seeing a bit of a backlash against Cruise, he’ll be hoping that new release Edge of Tomorrow is one of the good ones. Based on the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, this is essentially Groundhog Day with robots and aliens.
William Cage (Tom Cruise) is a Major in the American army, which along with the rest of the world is dealing with an alien invasion. Unfortunately Cage is a bit combat shy and instead essentially works in advertisement, with his goal being to make the army, and their new robotic suits, look good. That is until he manages to piss off General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) who promptly packs him off to the front line. Once in battle he comes face to face with a Mimic (one of the aforementioned aliens) and manages to kill it just before he dies himself, only to wake up 24 hours earlier at the point when he was forced into army life. These circumstances eventually lead to him bumping into Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), or as she’s affectionately known the Full Metal Bitch. Through her he discovers that she once had the exact same thing happen to her and that it’s a side effect of having the blood of one of the aliens, which has the power to reset time by 24 hours, enter his system. This doesn’t only explain Cage’s current predicament, but also why the Mimics have been so easily winning this war.
Much as I said in the recent X Men: Days of Future Past review, time travel movies never tie together perfectly. However, much like that movie, it is worth looking past that, because underneath the occasional plot error there is a very fun film here. This is Tom Cruise on top form as Cage, who starts the movie as a bit slimy but slowly grows into a character that you care about. His relationship with Blunt’s Vrataski is really the centre of this film, as his affection for her grows but she has to get to know him all over again each and every day. In many ways it is a tragic relationship, but it’s portrayed in a way that keeps it light hearted, particularly as she takes the role of his executioner in an effort to reset the day when it’s been buggered up beyond all repair.
It’s ideas like this that point to the biggest comparison I can think of for this film, because it is essentially a video game. Cruise’s role is the central character that the player controls and much like famously difficult games like Dark Souls, it works on the idea of learning from your deaths. Vrataski therefore works as the restart button, taking you back to the checkpoint when you have mucked up beyond all repair. At one point Cruise even rage quits as he spends a day in a London pub rather than facing the challenge.
Edge of Tomorrow is a fast paced, thrill filled and often funny action movie that never bores and will certainly stand as one of Cruise’s strongest efforts in recent years. Director Doug Liman has managed to avoid the temptation to Nolanise this particular blockbuster and there is none of the dark seriousness that has become far to common in recent years. Instead this is a movie that revels in it’s ridiculousness and has no problem with poking fun at both itself and it’s premise. All of this combines to make this one of the surprise joys of the summer so far.