I like Tom Cruise. Apparently that sentiment contradicts the media. Outlets have become strangely agitated with the man who was once the biggest movie star in the world.
Cruise has been engaged in a five-year gauntlet of bad press that involved Scientology, pharmaceuticals, jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch, and calling Matt Lauer “glib.” During this period, he seemed weirdly disconnected from reality, trying to rehabilitate his ailing career. The media wasn’t budged, and people just don’t seem to like Cruise anymore. He’s become a punching bag; an icon who’s lost his luster. It’s unfortunate because he’s still an electric onscreen presence, and he’s making some of the most entertaining big-budget blockbusters of his career.
Not many actors try as hard as Cruise to render excitement. He’s in this strange career trajectory where he’s making really fun, disposable films. A string of well-assembled action movies, thrillers and sci-fi flicks that are worth the price of admission. Movies like “Jack Reacher,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” and “Oblivion” are well-produced B-Movies perfectly suited for an old-school movie star like Cruise. “Edge of Tomorrow” exemplifies another fine entry into the third act of his career, which finds him doing a lot less drama and a lot more blowing stuff up.
Cruise plays Major Cage, who is not a professional wrestler as his name would suggest. Major Cage is a military recruiter who spends his time getting interviewed by the news, rallying for the war effort and convincing young men and women to join ranks with the United Defense Force—an army of mechanically augmented super soldiers. They are fighting an army of alien invaders trying to conquer Earth because that’s what aliens do. Sure, some of them are really sweet—E.T., Starman, Mac from “Mac and Me”—but most are super intelligent soulless monsters who want to level cities, piss on the ashes and rape our planet of its natural resources. They won’t be satisfied until everyone on this planet is dead by their cold, scaly, three-fingered hands.
Major Cage is forced to the front lines just before the most epic attack force is set to take down the alien scum. Reluctant to step into battle, he’s given no other choice. Something goes wrong, and the invading force of humanity is wiped out. In the process, Major Cage is killed; but, instead of dying, he wakes up 24 hours earlier at base camp.
Dazed and confused, he’s unsure how exactly he traveled back in time. Before he can wrap his head around it, he’s back in battle with a monster déjà vu hangover. Major Cage once again dies and returns to the exact same moment. He’s caught in an endless video-game-like cycle of live, die and repeat.
“Edge of Tomorrow” feels like a smoothie composed of “Groundhog Day,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Starship Troopers.” I try to avoid using other films to describe a movie, but “Edge of Tomorrow” wears its inspirations squarely on its sleeve. The “born again” dynamic intrigues, especially considering the prevalence of that logic in video game culture. The D-Day like invasion sequences showcase supreme staging, making them an absolute blast to watch on the big screen.
My chief complaints involve the wonky science used to keep everything tidy. I’m sure some will appreciate the extremely linear and easy-to-follow conventions that perpetuate the story; however, part of me hoped for a deeper dive into the aliens, the invasion, and exactly how one absorbs abilities from an alien simply by having it bleed on them. (Seems an idiotic strategy when fighting a blood-shed heavy war.)
“Edge of Tomorrow” isn’t a smart movie. It’s a very dumb, fun movie pretending to be smart. But Cruise is fantastic, Emily Blunt is great and director Doug Liman knows how to make a well-paced action thriller.
“Edge of Tomorrow” proves an excellent summer movie that feels almost fresh among the comic-book adaptations, reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings. It’s not actually innovative—it borrows heavily from other movies. But it succeeds so well in its adaptive nature, it gives the illusion of nuance. It’s a great thrill ride and another quality entry in a summer that has thus far delivered some pretty decent fare.
Edge of Tomorrow
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton
Directed by Doug Liman