As always, slight spoilers ahead…
Body parts exploding on-screen in epic battles is usually my scene, but I almost passed up Edge of Tomorrow. I’m glad that I didn’t, although I have to say that living through a repeat loop of Tom Cruise’s life wasn’t exactly what I felt like doing for the afternoon. Luckily, by a half hour into the movie, I was able to get the abbreviated and condensed version of his monotonous horror of reliving every day after dying.
There are a few breaking points in the first hour. One is when Cruise as Major William Cage realizes what’s happening to himself and plays along with it to the best of his ability because he can’t find a solution. Then he meets Emily Blunt’s Sergeant Rita Vrataski and she says the infamous trailer line of “Find me when you wake up.” Of course, she has no recollection of this when he actually does find her, but that is finally when our story starts and we understand what we’re dealing with in the movie.
At first, I’m pretty sure the audience doesn’t understand much more than Cruise himself and we’re only allowed to deal with the same confusion that he’s dealing with. Within that, we’re also allowed to experience the new knowledge he gets each time he dies. The poor, sniveling man who, in his own words, “fainted at the sight of blood,” a neophyte who had never seen combat and who never wanted to see combat, was transformed into a pretty capable soldier. The new soldier was one formed by a sense of survival and trying to figure out if the next time he died might be the last time he woke up.
You would think in a movie that repeats a day three hundred times that there really wouldn’t be any forward moving plot, but the writers manage to squeeze it in with humor. Action, sci-fi, humor…checklist complete. I felt like I was right in the war with Cage and Vrataski. The training sets the tone and pacing of the film. I also appreciated how the aliens were winning the war. Sometimes in alien movies, there is a sense that mankind is going to win even though we’re coming up against alien technology we’ve never seen before–it can somehow be dismantled with a rocket launcher or atomic bomb.
I liked that the pace picked up after the first hour, however it seemed to get more clear and jumbled at the same time. For example, when Cage was in different situations with Vrataski and tell her that “this always happens here” or “I know this because you told me before,” it was hard to figure out how many times they had been in the situation before because the viewer is just seeing it for the first time.
The movie is delicious–it’s a mix of genetics with alien fare sci-fi, time bending, and changing the future. Perspective changes all the time. The mission of “win the war” turned into “kill the alien source that we’ve never heard of.” It almost turned into a quest of sorts, with the military back up to prove it.
Of course, the movie did have the trope of “person who really isn’t equipped for task at hand gets trained and becomes the only one capable to finish the job,” but no one ever said you couldn’t teach the alien genre new tricks. As a whole, the movie was a fresh twist on what is usually seen.
I really enjoyed watching it. I enjoyed that it didn’t give a crap about what aliens looked like (or how they were named) and just portrayed them as a hot black mess of speed and agility. I really, really, REALLY enjoyed that it didn’t try to make the two leads into a romantic couple. That slight hint got completely thrown out of the helicopter window by the end of the movie.
And ah, Emily Blunt. I appreciated her work from The Young Victoria all the way to Looper and she does not disappoint in this. She is one bad boss. They almost messed her up with the almost hint of romance, but they redeemed it in the end and she turned out fine. As a woman lead, she was portrayed with a real sense of agency.
I actually wouldn’t mind living and repeating this one.