Review: Smart, Surprising 'Edge of Tomorrow' Kicks All the Right Ass
by Jeremy Kirk
June 6, 2014
The name of the movie is Edge of Tomorrow, but the name of the novel that inspired it is All You Need is Kill, definitely a harder hitting title than the safer, more user friendly name Warner Bros. came up with. Oddly enough, the movie's title is more appropriate for the story it tells, but Edge of Tomorrow still lives up to its source material's title, matching it bullet-for-bullet and generally kicking just as much ass. It's a non-stop jolt of summer blockbuster-sized entertainment, made all the more so by an expected charismatic turn from Tom Cruise. Altering and adjusting the novel in all the right ways, Edge of Tomorrow's marriage of story and eye-popping visuals makes it the one to beat for the remainder of the season. Read on!
Cruise is certainly playing against type here, at least for the first part of the film. He plays Major William Cage, a public relations spokesman for the military of the future, one that's been fighting an alien race that invaded our planet years before. Cruise's Cage is more comfortable as a talking head on the nightly news than he is handling on-the-field combat, so it comes as quite a shock to him when his commanding general (Brendan Gleeson) sends him to the frontline of the latest assault against the alien army. The assault soon begins, and it becomes very evident very quickly that it's going to be a slaughter.
Strangely enough, the PR spokesman inadvertently kills one of the aliens during the battle just before he is taken out himself. Quite graphically, in fact. To his (and anyone's who hasn't seen the trailer) surprise, he awakens 30 hours earlier, forced to live the day leading up to that battle once again. The battle comes. The massacre begins. Upon Cage's inevitable death, he again reawakens 30 hours before. Live. Die. Repeat.
That last little bit is the tagline for Edge of Tomorrow, just a sampling of the coolness being injected into every aspect of the film. You can thank director Doug Liman for a large portion of that coolness. He's been churning out cinema of the cool for nearly 20 years now, movies like Swingers, Go, The Bourne Identity, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith just a small sampling. Edge of Tomorrow is arguably the biggest project he's brought his cool factor to, and the escalation in budget and overall scope of the film doesn't hinder his ability to turn on the wicked at a moment's notice. This film is wall-to-wall action entertainment. Explosions abound, melee weapons slice and dice at every turn, and the giant mechanized suits the humans wear meet the monstrous and exquisitely designed aliens in tons of epic battle scenes.
But all the explosive excitement isn't where Edge of Tomorrow really wins the audience over. Cruise isn't the gung ho action superstar here he's played in so many Mission: Impossible movies, not to even count those other alien invasion movies he's been a part of. The structure of the film is unlike anything Summer blockbusters have given us before, a Groundhog Day-meets-alien-invasion-sub-genre that manages to transcend all of its aspects. The screenwriting team who put the film together from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel (Christopher McQuarrie and the writing team of Jez & John-Henry Butterworth) keep it as light as they can while still delivering the action goods. There is as much levity as there is warfare, the two sometimes mingling with genuinely funny gallows humor. If you've ever wondered what it was like to watch Tom Cruise die a few hundred times, this is definitely the movie for you.
Even when it subverts the standards of Hollywood blockbusters, Edge of Tomorrow's tone is kept on the right track, its structure always moving at the perfect pace. Liman and the team behind the screenplay take all of the best elements of Sakurazaka's novel and create their own standard for epic, blockbuster entertainment. The general layout of the story is surprisingly more Hollywood-friendly in the original, Japanese novel, the main character being a brash, young recruit instead of a middle-aged PR rep. The endings to the two are even more different, however, Edge of Tomorrow finally finding its Hollywood ways in the closing moments. It's not that everything is wrapped up too neatly in the film, but knowing the ending to "All You Need Is Kill" gets your hopes up for something a little more epic than what's put to film.
To be fair, though, this is a Summer blockbuster with Cruise's face all over the posters, but here's something new. He's not alone on those posters. Cruise's charisma and love for physical acting gives us another exceptional performance here, one that is sure to keep him firm in the industry's standing. What's really surprising about Edge of Tomorrow is the other face on that poster, Emily Blunt. In the film she plays Rita Vrataski aka The Angel of Verdun aka Full Metal Bitch aka the only human on the planet who can deal some serious damage to the monstrous aliens. The film treats her as a legend, just as Cruise's character would know of her before trying to be her alien-busting student. Blunt equals him in every way possible, even surpassing Cruise's acting abilities in a few scenes. She's one of a dozen aspects, one of the main ones, in Edge of Tomorrow that boosts its excitement level way beyond anything we've seen recently.
Between the engaging and creative screenplay, impeccable turns by two very strong leads, and that "blow you away" factor hooked into every frame of the film, it's not difficult to see Edge of Tomorrow as the firm choice for Summer blockbuster entertainment. The tagline may as well be "Watch. Enjoy. Repeat." to get the right message across to its audience. Edge of Tomorrow is one to be enjoyed a number of times for a number of various high points it brings to the game. At the end of the day, who cares what the title is? As much ass as this film kicks, they should have just put an image of a closed fist on the poster next to Cruise and Blunt. That'd get the right message across.
Jeremy's Rating: 9 out of 10
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