Edge Of Tomorrow
|UK Release Date||30th May 2014|
|Reviewed||10th June 2014|
Baby Shark and I are really on a roll now. Another film we actually wanted to see and we weren't disappointed. Edge of Tomorrow is a lively and unusual blockbuster starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt and helmed by diverse director Doug Liman.
It’s sometime in the future and the world is at war. Alien creatures, Mimics, have invaded and currently the chances of the humans being victorious are looking somewhat precarious to say the least. The mimics are terrifyingly effective alien types with metallic tentacles whose blood will melt your face. Nice. Enter William Cage, a PR guru/spin doctor type for the US military whose good looks and smarmy charm have helped thousands of soldiers sign up for what are effectively their own death warrants. Cage is, for all intents and purposes, a coward and when he is presented with a scenario to head down to the front line, he politely declines. This being the military of course it doesn’t go down well and Cage is stripped of his title and thrown in with the hoi polloi facing certain death on the beaches of France. It’s not giving too much away to say that Cage does indeed get killed but not before he kills a mimic and is therefore imbedded with strange time powers that means the day reboots every time he dies. And here we go with Groundhog Day / Memento Meets Aliens / Event Horizon / Pitch Black / insert sci fi movie here. It’s better than that though, it’s actually a really fun, smart summer blockbuster. It's surprising and that's unusual in this current landscape of identikit stupid boy's films.
Isn’t it just dandy to see all American hero Tom Cruise as a first class schmuck. It’s inspired to have him play a role like this and to have him being funny again? Sure feels like a while since I laughed out loud in a TC film (Tropic Thunder???), his opening scenes with the genius that is Brendan Gleeson made me do just that. Cage is a character who is sleepwalking through this whole war. The opening scene, a pretty spectacular one, of a helicopter landing in Trafalgar Square has Cage sleeping in the back. His eyes are shut. It takes an actor with the likeability of Cruise to be able to steer us through opening scenes like that and still stay with Cage. He may not be the king of the box office anymore but there’s no denying that he’s still got movie star quality and this film is certainly a step in the right direction to regaining some credibility.
Again I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that Cage doesn’t spend the entire film being useless and he does later become more like the characters we are used to seeing TC playing but it sure is something to see him looking lost and scared as hapless Cage. It’s a woman who brings about Cage’s transformation, even more unusual for this type of movie of late. Emily Blunt’s Rita Vretraski (what a name), otherwise known as the Full Metal Bitch or the Angel of Verdun. A kick ass, no nonsense, strong, brave soldier – so everything Cage isn’t. Vretraski is saddled with Cage as the two come together and realise they are the key to saving the world. This is complex on two levels for Rita, one that this is the type of officer she has no time for and secondly he knows her extremely well, they’ve had thousands of days together whereas she has no idea what she has told him. She is meeting him for the first time every ‘day’. Vretraski shows no mercy when Cage is no use to her and she has to ‘reset’ – by shooting him in the head. They are fun and exciting scenes. Liman managed to keep it fresh and engaging, which is a credit to him and his leading man and lady. The ‘romantic’ aspect of Cage and Vertraski’s relationship is a tad half-hearted and as such doesn’t really bother the story, it’s a shame it had to be in there at all. Blunt and Cruise have so-so chemistry but one can’t help but find it hard to look at Cruise as a heartthrob now. I’d just rather not. Bless him.
Emily Blunt certainly looks the part of warrior woman thanks to a not inconsiderable workout regime that made her husband, Jon Krasinski, remark that he was worried he was going to wake up to her bench-pressing him one morning. Ha. But yes she is that fit and that hot. Vertraski wears minimal makeup and not overly sexy outfits, she feels real and for a female character in this type of movie that is unusual. Let’s not get misled, TC is of course still the hero here but Rita is alongside him for much of the way so I guess that’s something.
Bill Paxton is a joy as Farrell, the overbearing, drilling, Master Sargent. Paxton makes the early re runs of Cage’s recruitment process an absolute delight. Genius. And of course talking of genius one needs to mention Gleeson again. He's not in it for long but it's lovely to have him in there. There is some good secondary support also in the shape of Cage’s regiment - J Squad (Tony Way, Kick Gurry, Charlotte Riley) but because of the reboot structure we hardly get to know them and it is hard to really feel anything for them. There are times where one can feel the scenes that Liman cut to get the film to flow, to the detriment of some of the character development. However, making a story like this work is a pretty serious juggling act and for the most part he didn’t drop any balls (pretty sure there is a joke here but I'm too sleep deprived to get it, so please insert your own. Said the actress to the bishop).
There are some classy folk involved in this film. Adapted from the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurasaka (why not keep that title??), Christopher Macquarie’s script had a helping hand from Jez and Henry Butterworth and is certainly a lot more funny and knowing than it could have been in other, heavier hands. Of course if one starts picking at it, it very quickly comes apart at the seams so don’t do that, just go with it and don’t start thinking sentences that start like ‘why doesn’t he/she just….?’ You’’ll only ruin it for yourself. Ok? Dion Bebe, an intriguing and varied DP does some good work here and there’s a great soundtrack by Christophe Beck. All helmed by Liman, who really should be a lot more famous than he is.
The final scene of Edge of Tomorrow is the best I’ve seen in film of this type for a while. Add to this a credit sequence not dissimilar to the one that ended the Bourne Identity with the cracking Moby track and it’s hard to not walk out the cinema with a smile on your face. What more do you want from a summer movie?
Check out the trailer here.