Tom Cruise’s character in Edge of Tomorrow may have to live the same day over and over again, but this movie brings something a little different to sci-fi genre.
Tom Cruise’s career as an actor has not been one of consistency. He has done easy-to-watch action flicks like Jack Reacher and Knight and Day, better-made action films like the Mission: Impossible series and great attempts at art such as Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia and Collateral (a personal favourite). This is common for any versatile actor and is a compliment in the right context.
What does stand out however, is the sheer number of science fiction films he’s participated in, from the likes of the amazing Minority Report to movies with more lukewarm reviews, such as War of the Worlds and Oblivion (which came out just last year.) He seems to be continuing this trend with the release of Edge of Tomorrow and as science fiction tends to be ripe with the potential for good storytelling, expectations were high.
The same old story
In Edge of Tomorrow, the world is being attacked by an alien race called Mimics, who have, at the start of the story, taken over most of Europe. The British General Bingham (Brendan Gleeson) orders Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) to go into actual combat in an oncoming battle against the aliens. Cage, who is merely a public affairs officer and used to be an advertising executive, is placed in a situation completely out of his depth. The oncoming battle proves to be disastrous for the humans, resulting in countless deaths, including that of Cage. He finds himself waking up again to relive the day from when he is forced to go into battle. Now it is up to Cage to prevent the disaster as he lives the same day over and over. In the process, he befriends Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a seasoned soldier in the army, who aids him in the fight against the Mimics.
Despite what the trailer might suggest, The Edge of Tomorrow is a film that does have plenty of depth. It may seem like a straight-cut action film, but it most definitely transcends that genre, by providing us with three-dimensional characters and a complicated storyline with an even more complex antagonist. The premise of repeating a single day over and over again is not uncommon with the most prominent example being that of Groundhog Day, but this movie, based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, gives great credit to the literature from which it draws its inspiration.
Cruising to new heights
With repetition being such a prominent aspect of the film, one might wonder, wouldn’t that get boring, tedious? Surprisingly, no. Cage’s character is an unusual choice for Cruise, who has almost always stuck to roles enamoured with heightened self-confidence, the guy who “always knows what to do” and comes out unscathed at the end. As a result, his character is great in drawing the audience’s empathy, a completely unqualified individual forced into unfamiliar territory.
This makes each repeated interaction all the more interesting, witnessing the character evolve into a more hardened individual, even though this comes as a result of him having lived the same experiences over and over again. This typical notion of proving oneself works brilliantly within the contours of Edge of Tomorrow, giving us a glimpse of true human characteristics being churned out through time.
In fact, it’s Blunt who serves up the role that Cruise is used to playing: self-assured, ass-kicking, stereotype-bashing, tough nugget. Her performance (and the writing that allowed for such a performance) is to be revered as well, as at no point does this badassery ever become monotonous or too much like the tropes with which we have become familiar.
Like all great science fiction stories, Edge of Tomorrow is filled with the potential for tragedy and a heightened sense of pathos. The fractured narrative is a great tool and director Doug Liman has used it with aplomb. There is the rather annoying obligatory romance between Cage and Vrataski, but it does not overwhelm the rest of the script, nor infringe on the main focus of the story. The only criticism that can be offered is that like most recent Tom Cruise films, this too much a ‘Tom Cruise film’. He is definitely the sole point of focus, which prevents the film from truly reaching out with its subject matter.
BBFC has awarded it with a 12A rating, which is justified. There are moments of brutal violence, but nothing too gory for teens. Some might find the complicated storytelling a bit confusing, but if they can get hold of it, they are most definitely in for an enjoyable experience.
Edge of Tomorrow is available on Digital HD from the 29th September and Blu-Ray and DVD on 13th October.