Live. Die. Repeat.
Edge of Tomorrow is the latest Tom Cruise starring summer blockbuster to hit the silver screen, and it’s easily one of his best science fiction films to date. He along with Emily Blunt provide masterful performances in what could be the best geeky movie released in 2014 so far. Edge of Tomorrow is well written, action packed, and smart, which makes for a thrilling movie going experience that keeps your imagination a prisoner of its awesomeness throughout its near 2-hour runtime.
It may have a similar concept to Groundhog Day, but its use of time travel is much more aligned with a sci-fi action movie than a romantic comedy. Cruise stars as Major William Cage, who is an officer tasked with fueling the war propaganda machine against an alien threat that crash landed on Earth via a meteor strike. The Mimics are a race of alien that look like organic versions of the sentinels from the Matrix franchise with ghostly faces. They move with lightning speed and have deadly tentacles that serve as weapons, so they can make short work of organic flesh. The Mimics lay waste to all of Europe only months after their arrival, so the world bands together for a futuristic D-Day offensive that is a last ditch attempt at striking back at the Mimic threat.
Cage, the puppeteer of the propaganda machine to enlist millions of soldiers to fight back against the Mimics gets thrust into the D-Day invasion after a disagreement with his superiors, which essentially kicks of the whole time loop mechanic that Edge of Tomorrow’s plot employs. At first Cage is a hopeless noob on the battlefield. He’s never been a solider, but rather just a pretty face for the news channels to talk about the Mimic war. His superiors label him a deserter and he’s sent to J-Squad to become the tip of the spear in the last ditch attack on the Mimics. He goes from being the face of the war’s propaganda movement to cannon fodder on the front line of an un-winnable war.
It’s safe to say that his lack of battlefield acumen doesn’t suit well for the D-Day invasion, so he and nearly every soldier sent to attack the Mimics get annihilated, but not before Cage can kill one of the Mimic Alpha soldiers, who are direct extensions of the Mimic’s hive mind called the Omega. By doing so he steals the Mimics’ ability of time travel, which is why he gets trapped in a time loop that sees him facing the same D-Day invasion over and over and over again. This power is also why the Mimics have been unbeatable, because if an Alpha is lost in battle the Omega will just reset the day and try again until its battle plan is perfected. The humans have no chance against this threat until Cage learns to master his new ability with the help of the very badass, but sexy as hell Special Forces soldier, Rita Vrataski, who is played masterfully by Emily Blunt.
Rita is the face of the armed conflict at this point for the humans thanks to her valiant effort at the Battle of Verdun where she earned the nickname “Angel of Verdun.” She’s a blade wielding badass who is affectionately called “Full Metal Bitch” by her compatriots. She too though is quickly eliminated during the opening minutes of the D-Day invasion, but thanks to her amazing battle prowess and undeniable good looks, Cage begins to notice her during each of his reboots. He begins to learn how to act each and every day he gets looped back into the D-Day battle, and slowly becomes a formidable warrior rather than a pencil pushing propagandist. During one reboot his display of bravery and efficiency catches the eye of Rita, who seemingly understands what Cage may be going through. She tells him to find her when he wakes up again, and then they both die in an explosion.
This is the point where Edge of Tomorrow really starts to get interesting with its use of time travel. Rita also once had the time loop ability like Cage, which is why she became such a badass at the Battle of Verdun, so she understands the power he now has and how to use it to their advantage. Each rebooted day the two meet up to train, plan, and then execute what they learned from the previous reboots, but the whole time Cage must re-explain everything to Rita and those who choose to help him since he’s technically the only one who is reliving the same day over and over. This motif makes for some great comedic moments as Cage goes from noob to Rambo on the battlefield, while also getting himself killed hundreds of times trying new tactics, or reaching new moments in the day he hasn’t experienced before, which usually leads to him getting killed, so the time loop keeps repeating.
Doug Liman (Director) and his writing team did a bang up job bringing this whole Groundhog Day scenario with mech-suits to life perfectly. At times you’d be watching a scene thinking that Cage had made new progress only to find out that he’d been reliving the scenario many times over, but hadn’t perfected it yet, so he had to keep dying until he learned a necessary skill like flying a chopper, or which moves to make to avoid certain death. You never know what stage of the game he and Rita are in, which always keeps you wondering how they’ll ever find and destroy the Omega, which is essentially the brain behind the hive minded Mimics. It’s also fun to watch Cage progress, which is a credit to Cruise’s acting ability, because there’s a clear transformation of the character from the first time you see him and the last.
You start to feel bad for Cage, because he just keeps dying over and over again doing what seems like an impossible task with no sign of hope in sight. To rub salt in his wounds he has to then relive the death and destruction of those around him over and over again, while also reexplaining everything he had told his companions hundreds of times before. There’s also the fact that he starts to fall for Rita, and must watch her die over and over again, which starts to take a toll on his confidence and belief in the mission. It’s these moments, the ones where you get to see the human side of Cage, Rita, and those around them, that truly shine in Edge of Tomorrow, and why it’s such a fantastic sci-fi action movie.
Edge of Tomorrow is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best geeky movie to hit the silver screen in 2014 so far. Its use of time travel won’t confuse you thanks to the care the Director and his team put into every scene and every bit of dialogue to ensure that you never get lost in its engrossing narrative. The action is intense and in your face, the world looks believable and not too CGI-like, and the cast is simply amazing. The performances by Cruise and Blunt definitely take the cake, with the former proving once again why he’s one of the most profitable and entertaining actors on the planet.
This movie is not just Groundhog Day with aliens and mech suits, it’s a masterpiece of storytelling that cleverly uses time travel and big budget effects to keep you enthralled until the credits roll. It’s one of those films that you’ll walk away from with a smile on your face, and thoughts in your mind that need to be exchanged with whoever you went to see it with. Edge of Tomorrow is most definitely the summer blockbuster sleeper of the season, so don’t miss out on this fabulous affair and go see it on the big screen as soon as possible to see how its clever time loop will play out.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a ticket to a Real 3D screening of the film for the purposes of this review.