Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Director: Doug Liman

This was a damn fun movie. My expectations were fairly high, too, considering it had garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews from all over the place. They were merited.

It's already been used a million times, but I can't escape the description of the movie as "Groundhog Day" meets     insert classic high-octane sci-fi flick here   . That is pretty much what you're getting, and director Doug Liman does it up right.

Without giving anything away, I'll offer this very brief summary: Major Cage (Tom Cruise) is a walking billboard of recruiting advertisement for a world military at war with an invading alien race. Cage, while an incredibly photogenic and charismatic recruiter, has no interest in any actual fighting. So when he's forced to the front lines by his commanding officer, he first balks, then refuses, and then attempts blackmail to get out of it. Rather than buckle to the blackmail, the general railroads him, labels him an AWOL enlisted man, and sends him into battle.

Just one of the many, many times that Major Cage has to
try and live through a battle that it may or may not be
possible for him to win.
As you can imagine, the craven and untrained Cage stands little chance on the battlefield. Shortly after he's dumped onto the beachhead, his squad is overrun by their alien adversaries. Cage manages to survive just long enough to see every person around him get annihilated, before he too is overtaken and killed.

But then...Cage wakes up. In fact, he not only wakes up alive, but in the exact same spot he was 24 hours earlier: on the barracks getting rousted by a hyper-vigilant drill sergeant, screaming the same things at him and forcing Cage into actions that he has already performed.

And thus begins the mystery/sci-fi/action/adventure that is Edge of Tomorrow, and it is a hell of a lot of fun. I won't spoil it by giving any details. Rather, I'll try to allay any concerns that you might not like this movie. First off - no, it does not get boring. Yes, there are some scenes that get repeated, a la Groundhog Day, but they never become tiresome. You actually find yourself waiting to see just how Cage will change his actions in order to either figure out what the hell is happening to him or how to solve the many problems that confront him.

Secondly - even people with little to no interest in science fiction will probably dig this movie. My Mom and my wife really enjoyed it, and they couldn't care less about science fiction. They both simply enjoyed the careful pacing and construction of the story. The steady dashes of humor also go a long way towards carrying along the non-nerd crowd.

Bill Paxton on the front. Anything that evokes Bill's turn as
Hudson in
Aliens is a thing to be cherished. No, he's not
the lovable whiner from that earlier classic, but he's a great
addition to this movie.
Third - Tom Cruise does just fine. I'm no fan of the guy, as I find that he basically plays the same character about 90% of the time, and I find him dull. I can't say that he necessarily enhances the movie in any notable way, but he surely doesn't take anything away from it either. If nothing else, you will get to see him die plenty of times (perhaps this is the true reason for the film's success?). In case you're worried that it's all about his character, have no fear - Emily Blunt is awesome as the ass-kicking uber soldier who is with him through many of his odd experiences. And she's not just some contrived, PC super femme. There's actually an imaginative explanation for her martial prowess. Sprinkled in are some sly performances by Bill Paxson and Brendan Gleeson, two guys who can essentially do no wrong in such a fun film.

Unless you are categorically and irretrievably opposed to science fiction or action, you need to see this film. Even if you are opposed, you should still seriously think about seeing it.