In a slightly different spin on the already jam packed summer of movies based on comics, Edge of Tomorrow is based on a manga called All You Need is Kill. What sets Edge of Tomorrow apart is a great, self deprecating performance by Tom Cruise and an amazing gimmick that it takes full advantage of.
Cruise stars as Major William Cage, who is the PR face of a massive war against an invading alien force. After being told he’s being sent in with a camera crew to document the next day’s massive invasion, he panics and tries to get out of duty, which results in him being demoted to private and sent in to battle as a normal grunt. He manages to take down one of the “Alpha” aliens and promptly dies, but wakes up back in the afternoon before the invasion. He slowly realizes the day resets each time he dies and eventually meets Sgt. Rita Vrataski, who experienced something similar but lost it. They then try to work together to try and find a way to win the war against the aliens. The movie does an absolutely brilliant job of playing with the time travel mechanic. There are a number of quick cut montages showing Cruise’s different tries and I’ve heard numerous people compare it to a video game and it really does capture the die and reset mechanic of games in the best way possible. Cruise starts to memorize enemy movement and events during the battle but is then killed by something else randomly because he never got that far before. There’s also always some clever way that the movie lets you know if Cruise has experienced the current event or not. The death mechanic is also the main source of humor in the movie, especially with a running bit where Emily Blunt “resets” whenever Cruise gets injured during training. The only major flaw of the movie is an ending that makes no sense with the rules established in the rest of the movie and wraps things up way too nicely. It really reminded me of the Source Code ending, a movie that also had a great, fun gimmick up to that point. Neither of those endings ruin the movie but it does leave a little bit of a sour note in your mouth.
The action overall is fantastic in Edge of Tomorrow with the main battle being the set piece that they return to multiple times. Every time we come back, there’s some new, cool thing that happens and it does a great job of slowly building Tom Cruise up to standard, Tom Cruise levels. When he starts out, he’s completely helpless and useless in the battle but he eventually becomes a one man alien killing force. The mech suits that all the grunts wear are really cool and allow for some superhuman feats from everyone, like allowing Emily Blunt to wield a Final Fantastyesque sword. The alien enemies are very cool and original as well, they are at the most basic level quadruped wolf like creatures but their bodies are flowing, almost liquid and it allows them to attack in unpredictable, ruthless ways.
Acting wise, Cruise is great as usual and, as mentioned above, he starts out as a cowardly, incompetent grunt and he has to train to get to his usual “Tom Cruise is the best” levels. There are lots of funny moments of him failing and either dying or having Emily Blunt “reset” him with a bullet to the head. Speaking of Emily Blunt, she is a complete bad ass and she and Cruise have a great dynamic where Cruise has to convince her about what’s happening every day and they fully embrace the time resets. The movie is basically all about Cruise and Blunt and the rest of the cast is kind of forgettable, with the one exception being Bill Paxton as a great, gruff Southern drill sergeant.
Edge of Tomorrow is a dark horse for one of the best movies of the summer. If you love action and time travel mechanics, you will get tons of both in this movie and Cruise and Blunt are fantastic and fun together. There’s a few minor gripes but it’s definitely worth checking out in theaters.