Most everyone would like to repeat a day in their lives. Almost nobody wants it to be the day they die.
Tom Cruise finds himself in the worst Groundhog’s Days scenario ever as one fateful encounter causes him repeat a bloody battle against alien invaders until he can properly defeat the enemy. As Cruise grows more and more familiar with his options, Edge of Tomorrow continues to play upon our familiarity with the action genre in ways that are surprising, innovative and highly amusing.
Major William Cage (Cruise) hasn’t seen a day of combat in his life. A media figurehead for the military, a series of events puts Cage on the front line against an invading alien force, much to his chagrin. A supposedly easy mission becomes a slaughter and Cage is killed, but not before he comes into contact with the blood of one of the creatures, codenamed “mimics”. Waking up the previous day, Cage discovers he has gained the power to reset the day. The catch is he must die to do so. Teaming up with a hard-as-nails warrior who knows what’s happening to him (Emily Blunt), Cage must use the mimic’s time abilities to prevent a full-scale invasion, and inadvertently become a complete badass while he’s at it.
Edge of Tomorrow is in many ways 2014’s World War Z — a film that went through numerous production issues and inspired little confidence beforehand but ended up being a summertime blast. Director Doug Liman delivers a film that hinges on its sci-fi plot twist and gets the most out of it. As mechanized soldiers fire at terrifying robo-aliens on a beach, one can’t help but think the story is poking a bit of fun at first person shooter video games with heroes that can come back to life, no problem.
The film succeeds as the rare plot-driven summer blockbuster. The fun doesn’t come from witnessing special effects-laden battles and cluttered chaos but rather from watching Cruise redo the past and learn from his mistakes. While Cruise is trapped in the time loop, the film is now free to branch off in several unexpected story directions and is smarter because of it.
Cruise has proven these last few years that he is more than capable of carrying an action blockbuster and Edge of Tomorrow is probably his most demanding. The emotional weight of the film is on him and he doesn’t disappoint. His journey from cowardly figurehead to unshakable killing machine is handled with appropriate solemness but also a welcome sense of humor as his strange situation brings a hearty amount of laughs. His combat training alone would be the comedic highlight of the film if not for numerous mishaps he has with passing trucks.
Blunt is believable as the veteran alien killer and Bill Paxton shows up for a spirited role as an eager sergeant, both of whom thankfully don’t get lost among the noise. A concept like this can also become naturally repetitive but editing is handled gracefully here and keeps the momentum going.
But like so many summer action movies (and sci-fi flicks), things just kind of fall apart in the third act. The once clever set up essentially goes away and we’re left with the routine, noisy actioner that is so dimly lit, it’s near impossible to decipher. And like it’s aforementioned comparison piece, the film makes no secret of the fact that they had no clue how to end the film. Other than being abrupt, you eventually have to resign yourself to the fact that the ending makes not a lick of sense.
But once you do get over that little qualm, the sky is the limit on how enjoyable this film can be. Cruise’s charisma, a smart intent and some effective editing make Edge of Tomorrow an experience worth repeating.