Friday, June 6, 2014


The concept of a time-loop has been around since the early 1940’s, and since then has been used by countless novels, comics, TV shows, and movies. The device, which involves a character or characters repeating a specific moment in time, has many uses and possibilities…and making an old idea feel new again is the challenge for Tom Cruise and director Doug Liman’s EDGE OF TOMORROW.
An unstoppable alien force is decimating the Earth, and first-time infantry-man William Cage (Tom Cruise) is sent to the front. When he has an encounter with an alien (known as a Mimic), he gets stuck in a time-loop where he re-lives the same day after he dies. Cage enlists the help of Rita (Emily Blunt), a fierce warrior who once lived through the same experience.

EDGE OF TOMORROW follows Cage as he fights, dies, and repeats the day countless times. Every death has him awakening at the same point, and he uses his second chance to either get out of his situation or to learn from his mistakes to try and live and win the war against the superior forces of the Mimics. The audience sees the film through Cage’s eyes; as he goes through the initial fear of the chaos of combat through his painful learning experiences through death. What really makes it work is that the stakes are very high. When Rita realizes that Cage’s “gift” is the only advantage they have in the war, the two set out to capitalize on each failure to get further towards their goal. As an added bonus, director Doug Liman does not always let us know when Cage is reliving a scene; leaving the us in a constant guessing game to figure out if the characters have been through this before or not. It is engaging, never fails to please, and constantly keeps the brain cells working.
Doug Liman keeps the pacing brisk with action sequences that are very well shot and timed. There is no over-use of the goddamn shaky-cam technique, and there is never a moment where the sense of surrounding and place is lost. Battle scenes are done on a tremendous scale which is thrilling and sometimes jaw-dropping. The buildup towards the reveal of the horrific aliens is nicely done; it teases without denying and the payoff is worth it. The design of the Mimics is excellent; multi-tentacled and menacing, although the CGI is a bit cartoony. But through all of the spectacle and big booms, Liman keeps things centered on Cage and Rita, and through them we find a heartbeat to latch onto.

Tom Cruise brings his best to the battle-front. He is at his best in the early going when he is asked to convey a tremendous sense of fear when being dropped into a hellish war with no idea how to even fire his weapon. Cruise is convincing, fun to watch, and is more than capable of shouldering the burden of the film’s grand scale. Emily Blunt is awesome as she blasts and hacks aliens, and she hits all the right notes in the quieter scenes. Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson offer great supporting roles as Cage’s superiors.
The third act seems to drag on a little too long. Once the final solution to the war is realized, the film takes a hell of a long time to get there. It is made up for by a rousing ending in which we almost don’t know what really happened. EDGE OF TOMORROW is a true thinking-man’s science fiction film; full of spectacle and a perfect version of an old storytelling technique which is a joy to take in…while never going dumb.


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