THE EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014) Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Jonas Armstrong, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor. Directed by Doug Liman
Tom Cruise is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood. He can go from drama, to action, to comedy, a reminder of why he remains at the top of the A list. In 2002 he added Science Fiction to his repertoire with the Steven Spielberg film "Minority Report" followed by "War Of The Worlds" in 2005 and last years "Oblivion".
The Edge Of Tomorrow is the latest Cruise sci-fi epic, directed by Doug Liman who became well know for his action films The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum. It's a collaboration that should have happened years ago.
Cruise plays Major William Cage, a public relations guy for the Army. He's never seen combat and faints at the sight of blood, in fact you could say he's a coward. When the film opens the world is under siege by an alien invasion that has already wiped out several cities and most of Europe. The creatures known as "mimics" resemble the Sentinels from The Matrix crossed with something out of John Carpenter's The Thing and Starship Troopers, they are fast-moving and deadly killing machines.
Cage is called to General Brigham's office at the United Defense Force headquarters in London where Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) informs Cage that he wants him to capture footage of the soldiers battling these aliens at the front line. Cage reminds the general that's he's not a soldier and someone else would be better suited for the task, but Brigham is persistent and so Cage decides the best thing to do is threaten the general with blackmail, not a good idea. Brigham orders his men to arrest Cage who tries to flee, he's tased and wakes up to find himself in handcuffs at the company of Master Drill Sergeant Farell, (Bill Paxton in a role reminiscent of his Private "Game Over Man" Hudson character in Aliens), who has papers listing Cage as a deserter and to get him combat ready. This scenario provides some very humorous moments between Paxton and Cruise.
Quickly, Cage is in full armor, a robotic suit with advanced weaponry, and being dropped from a plane onto the beaches of Normandy where the battalion is being slaughtered by the mimics. Cage perishes on the battlefield but not before being covered in blue blood from one of the aliens which gives him special time travel powers. He awakes to find himself right where he started, in handcuffs at the barracks where he first meets Drill Sergeant Farell. Like the film "Groundhog Day," every time Cage dies he awakens to find himself in handcuffs reliving that one day. Knowing what's about to happen before it does, starts to work in Cage's favor as he starts to figure out how to stay alive a little longer each time. While on the battlefield he meets the poster girl for the military, Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski, a cross between Ripley from Alien and Alice from Resident Evil, played by the charming Emily Blunt like you've never seen her before. She too once had the time travel power like Cage but lost it and she eventually catches on to what's happening. The two join forces along with the help of Vrataski's friend, Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor), who has a theory on how to kill the aliens.
The complex narrative creates a dynamic that Cruise and Blunt excel in thanks in part to the clever script by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth. The Edge Of Tomorrow is everything a good science fiction film should be and if you get a chance catch the movie on an IMAX screen. The film opens on the anniversary of D-Day so as you're watching Tom Cruise storm the beaches in France, take a second to think about those courageous troops that came ashore at Normandy in 1944.
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