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Edge of Tomorrow – Movie Review

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Edge of Tomorrow – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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Lately, Tom Cruise has become very consistent in choosing worthy action projects. He is able to retain his youthful vigor while making very inspired projects, particularly last year’s Oblivion. Edge of Tomorrow takes a premise that could have been repetitive and absurd, but director Doug Liman respects the audience enough to not spell out every little detail and the result is an exciting ride. This is a big-screen movie that takes full advantage of the frame (albeit with unnecessary 3D) and the film moves by at a solid pace. It doesn’t present any revolutionary ideas, but does tell its story very well.

Edge of Tomorrow has quite a bit to set up and it does take a short while to get going. A montage of fictional news reports immediately throw a lot of exposition at the audience and it’s a ton to take in. However, once Tom Cruise’s Cage finds himself in Groundhog Day territory, the plot takes hold and never becomes dull. The screenplay takes pride in its premise and has some fun with it, injecting a lot of humour that never feels forced. Cruise manages to show how he evolves through each day and his reaction is different every single time. It would be easy to write this off as a typical action movie performance, but it’s one that requires a lot of subtle adjustments to make it believable and Cruise proves how reliable he can be in these roles. Emily Blunt plays his closest companion on this journey and brings a lot of dry humour to her portrayal of a super-soldier. There’s an obvious mutual respect between Cage and Rita, but a romantic relationship never materializes, a trap the filmmakers could have easily fallen into. Even though Cage has to re-introduce himself to her every single time he’s sent back, their friendship nonetheless develops like it would in any narrative picture.

Edge of Tomorrow avoids becoming a bunch of repetitive sequences, because Doug Liman respects the viewer’s ability to connect the dots. Sometimes, the story will merely show the fifth attempt to change the course of the day rather than the first reset. The film, in a way, resembles a video game in how the characters utilise trial-and-error to succeed at each obstacle. Most of the time, our first time playing a level is a bust. However, through returning and figuring out the steps, the gamer improves and will eventually reach a check-point with ease. A lot of film adaptations of video games could learn a thing or two from Edge of Tomorrow’s story structure. The “big boss” of this film, an entire army of tentacled alien creatures, do pose a real threat and don’t come across as just a force to shoot at. They’re sneaky and quite scary in the way they come right towards the protagonists’ faces and their power is especially noticeable in one knock-out sequence in London. These are not the usual alien invaders who just want to destroy Earth, because the plot requires them to. They have a plan and that raises the stakes even higher.

Adding to the overall level of excitement in Edge of Tomorrow are the war scenes on a beach battlefield. Director of photography Dion Beebe gives the camera a real point-of-view of being stuck on the ground with Cage and the other soldiers. Beebe swerves and turns at the right moments and very rarely does he does resort to shaky-cam. As stated before, the action scenes don’t repeat themselves and thus, there is always a surprise at every corner. That Cage has to be on his feet and is constantly thinking only raises the adrenaline level even higher. With that said, some of the action sequences can overdo the shooting and bullet-flying, mainly in some of the climax. We never truly get to know the rest of Cage’s troop and so there’s emotional resonance when we see them being killed again and again. However, since Cage and Rita are the only ones we’re meant to have any real focus towards, it’s understandable that the filmmakers would not develop the other soldiers to concentrate on our leads.

While Edge of Tomorrow brings to mind Duncan Jones’s superior Source Code, “derivative” is not the word I would use to describe it. This is a thrilling war picture with an added plot element it has a lot of fun with. As a piece of popcorn entertainment, it works. However, the movie never dumbs down the material nor does it becomes insultingly pandering. Tom Cruise is a movie star in every definition of the term and this film is further proof of that. This is not a revolutionary piece of science-fiction, but it is engaging and even occasionally smart and Doug Liman commands the whole film with a clear vision and idea.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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