Edge of Tomorrow review – Time Travelling Tom Cruise

Edge of Tomorrow (Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise) (2)

With 2013’s Oblivion turning out to be underwhelming at the box office and in critical reviews, you might think that Tom Cruise, who starred in a hit with Jack Reacher in 2012, might not have the chops for a science fiction story.

Edge of Tomorrow, however, turns that all around.

Based on the 2004 novel All You Need Is Kill by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow tells a story that is fresh and unique, but also inherently faithful to its original source – when it airs in Japan on July 6th, the movie will even be shown under its original title of All You Need Is Kill, as the Japanese audience would be more familiar with the source material.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt – the latter of whom starred in Looper, another time-travel movie – are the film’s leads, supported by Bill Paxton of Aliens fame, as well as Brendan Gleeson, who won an Emmy for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Into the Storm.

Edge of TomorrowThe film wastes no time in getting to its setting and premise: an invasion of aliens, called ‘Mimics,’ overwhelms the Earth, with much of Europe being utterly destroyed. These aliens seem to be unstoppable, and outmanoeuvre their human foes at every turn. Then, with the advent of powered armour suits called ‘jackets,’ and the rise to fame of Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a war hero experienced in driving back the Mimics, the United Defence Force in London, one of the last centres of human resistance in Europe, prepares to invade France a la D-Day and finally defeat the Mimics.

William Cage (Tom Cruise), a Major in the army, is assigned to a film crew and ordered to turn the invasion into a propaganda story for the supposed victory against the aliens. On the ground, Cage watches the operation turn into a disaster, the entire army get massacred, and then he himself is killed.

In any other movie, that could be a major spoiler – but not in Edge of Tomorrow. Instead, Cage wakes up the day before, and eventually finds that time is looping, with the whole day resetting upon his death.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as co-stars in a very small cast manage to drive the story on their own, not needing a vast set of different characters to provide the thrills that the story brings along. The two rise up and deeply enrich the characters; you’d hardly think that any other actors could play these parts, as Cruise and Blunt put all their skill into their roles. Even with the grim premise of the film, Cruise especially manages to insert comedic wit and timing not as lighthearted relief, but as perfectly written dark humour that doesn’t in any way seem out of place. At the same time, it’s the great chemistry on screen between the two leads that makes the world believable, as the the story becomes more and more intense.

The action scenes are a great hook into the rest of the movie; they share the theme of a desperate struggle with Saving Private Ryan, and many of the initial battles seem to be lifted right from the famous Normandy landing scene from the same film. Throughout the movie, it’s never sure if Cage and Rita will succeed in actually defeating the Mimics, and the story’s tone really makes you wonder if they succeed, fail, or even win a battered, Pyrrhic victory. It’s that kind of driven, directed plot that takes not only superb writing, but acting that can elevate that writing. Edge of Tomorrow, without a doubt, succeeds on both those counts.

Director, Doug Liman, is noted for his skill with The Bourne Identity, and the fast, frenetic pace from that movie transitions well to Edge of Tomorrow. The action is quick and raw, but not too hard to follow. Though the Mimics themselves are fast and zip around the screen, the scenes they appear in give time for them to linger, just a little, so that the audience can get a good view of them. Their design is unique and the way they move and attack is unpredictable, adding to the tension as the movie goes on. However, at the same time, they’re never on-screen for too long, which is a mistake made too often by alien and monster movies. The focus is always anchored on the human characters, and the view of the Mimics is from that same human perspective, making them seem all the more terrifying and unbeatable.

In addition to the action itself, each moment in the film is underscored by the musical talents of Christophe Beck, who famously did the music for Frozen, seemingly a complete opposite of the musical tone of Edge of Tomorrow. However, his vast range of experience with setting music to film makes him a perfect fit for Edge of Tomorrow, as while there are scenes with comedy, action and drama all intermixed, they share a similar tone throughout. The music, rather than ever taking centre stage, lingers in the background, always ready to reach a dramatic peak when necessary, and fading away into near-silence when the mood calls for it.

Edge of Tomorrow (Tom Cruise)Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a great movie, but not because of any individual element of the acting, writing, music, or directing; all these elements work together in order to make a film that at no point feels like it’s getting boring or dragging its feet. It has just enough action and dialogue to not feel unbalanced in any way, and it proceeds at a steady, building pace right up until its climax.

If there can be any real criticism of Edge of Tomorrow, it’s that it does focus almost entirely on Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt; the other actors in the film have supporting roles at best, and those who aren’t taken in by either of the leads – great though their work in this film is – might find themselves wanting, as the story doesn’t really offer much focus on any characters than the main two.

It’s well worth a watch, or even two. With a recent string of science fiction blockbusters failing to really make any lasting impact, Edge of Tomorrow is a fresh, new film that doubles as a faithful adaptation of its source material.

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