So I don’t like Tom Cruise. I won’t deny he’s a great actor, because he plays every role effortlessly and believably. For some reason though, (Ooo, I wonder why) he’s most commonly cast in uber-cocky, ego-maniacal saviour-of-the-day roles. And he plays those roles far too well for me to like him. It was here that Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow first grabbed me. I can watch Mission Impossible over and over and over again (please don’t make me) and I will not, even for a second, warm to Tom’s character, Ethan Hunt. With Edge of Tomorrow however, it’s like they wanted to give Tom a decent shot at getting in my good books. And I fell for it, right from the get go.
Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is introduced to us a smarmy PR officer for the army. Before the war against the Mimics (the blindingly fast, tentacled machines that have invaded Earth, against which humanity are waging a difficult war), William Cage was an advertising executive and when the time came to step up and fight, he talked his way out of a SUIT and into a well-dressed, no-risk desk job. He’s a coward. And suddenly he’s thrust, against his will onto the front lines. He tries to worm his way out of deployment to Normandy, France (Yes, they’re doing that, only with aliens) and next thing he knows, Major William Cage has been forcefully demoted to Private and is shoved into an exoskeleton battlesuit without even the slightest clue as to what he’s doing. I felt for him. He really wasn’t ready. He couldn’t even think about ever being ready to drop from the sky in a metal exoskeleton with guns on every available appendage into a horde of chaotic, flailing, deadly extraterrestrial squid.
Then he dies. Blowing himself up and taking down a great blue Mimic with him. Then he dies again. And again. Aaaaand again. You see, every time the Private/Major cowardly Cage dies, he immediately reawakens at the beginning of the day before the battle. Slowly, the cowardly Cage builds his confidence and competence through a series of horrific deaths circa Groundhog Day meets The Matrix meets Terminator. Every time he dies, he wakes up again, remembers how, and is able to avoid it the next time, only to be met by a different and equally awful end a few seconds later. He doesn’t know what’s happening. He has the usual trouble of trying to convince people he’s been there done that before, and it didn’t go well with the usual “you’re about to say this” and “that thing is about to happen over there” routines. He eventually gets a bite. A battle-hardened, bad-ass female veteran (Emily Blunt) believes him. He’s been unwillingly and unwittingly turned from a bumbling, duty-dodging buffoon, into a secret weapon against the alien threat and, possibly, humanity’s only hope of victory. And in a great performance as un-Cruise-like as I’ve ever seen from him, he handles it with grace. For the first time, and in possibly his most saviour-of-the-day-esque role yet, Cruise earns his right to be cocky, and then surprises us all by being humble instead. Expecting an egotistical hero and instead getting an incompetent fool who slowly becomes a fierce soldier as well as an admirable, and often funny, person, it makes Cruise… likeable. Edge of Tomorrow then, with its energetic camerawork, its epic battle scenes, its great modern-day but future-tech setting, flaming 3D debris flying towards your face and the interesting use of “time travel” as a mechanic for character development, it’s a movie that should have felt generic, but turned out to feel anything but. A solid 3.5 stars for a long-awaited winner for Cruise. Enjoy an exhilarating sci-fi action film whose story arcs may ruffle a couple of your time-travel-theory feathers from time to time, but never a single, gloriously styled hair on Tommy’s head. TO VICTORY!!!
Last Updated: June 11, 2014