Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

The Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow 1

If you like video games, you’ll likely love this movie, but even if you don’t, The Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt and directed by Doug Liman, has plenty to offer. It has a terrible title but it’s based a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, so maybe something got lost in translation. I’m not sure and, really, it’s inconsequential to the quality of this film.

The premise is that a military officer, William Cage (Tom Cruise), a slick PR dog-and-pony- show kind of guy, is told he’s going to be with the tip of the spear for a massive beach assault that the Earth defense forces have planned in an attempt to defeat an alien invasion force. Cage is not happy. He gets people to join the army; he does not participate in combat. During the assault, which is similar in scope and importance to the D-Day invasion of WWII, Cage contracts some sort of blood-borne virus in the heat of battle and enters a time loop, reliving each day, and dying each day, until he gets further and further along, and closes in on the enemy. He is aided by special forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is a Full Metal Bitch who has one goal in mind: destroy the enemy.

Edge of Tomorrow 3

This is by far the best movie based on a video game that’s not based on an actual video game. The idea of starting over each time you are killed until you are proficient enough to move competently along in what appears at first to be a suicide mission; muscle memory, training, even memorizing the exact number of steps; when to duck, when to jump, all done through trial and error, until you are the master of a complicated choreography, and are able to accomplish the goal–these have been staples of video games from Donkey Kong to today’s more sophisticated RPG’s like Skyrim.

Tom Cruise gets a lot of eye-rolling for the choices he makes in his personal life, but as a performer in these kind of blockbusters, for my money no one is better. He received a fair bit of flak for being chosen to play Jack Reacher in the movie based on the character in the Lee Child novels. I love the Jack Reacher books and binge on them regularly. They are well researched, funny at times, and suspenseful, and Reacher is an old-timey kind of man who takes the bus and doesn’t give a shit what people think. Though physically Cruise doesn’t resemble Reacher, he was able to capture the intensity and integrity of the man, as well as his ferocious style of fighting, which is fast and brutal and often very ugly. And in The Edge of Tomorrow Cruise once again lends himself well to the trope of reluctant hero, which when done well is something I never get tired of watching or reading, and has the audience anticipating the moment when he will embrace his calling and immerse himself in full-on heroism, sacrificing life and limb to a cause bigger and better than himself.

Cage and Rita play off each other well. She is single minded in her purpose, all soldier, all the time, while Cage is a man reluctant, questioning, and scared. What I appreciate is that each rubs off on the other in small, subtle ways, so there are no blatant moments of awareness or enlightenment. The friendship that evolves is based on respect and understanding. One scene in which Cage prepares a cup of coffee, a rare commodity, for Rita is touching in how it gives us just a glimpse of how nurturing, and being nurtured, in a time of war can have meaning and impact beyond the act itself. Rita becomes the reluctant recipient, just as Cage becomes the reluctant hero.

The 3D technology was used to good, but not great, effect. I think Hollywood is still working out the kinks and we may still be a year or two away from complete competence. But this movie really shines in the money they spent on the beach assault scenes where the equipment, smoke, bullets, and chaos are filmed in such a way that the viewer gets a perspective that is both macro and micro, which I can only assume is a difficult balance to attain. From panoramic shots of dozens of troop-carrying vehicles, some in the air while dozens more have landed, to a shot of hundreds of men and women running and dying, to the shot of a single soldier crushed by debris fallen from a craft–it’s not as good as Saving Private Ryan but it’s darn close.

Edge of Tomorrow 2

This is the second film I’ve seen in the theatre this summer and both were good. If you have a chance to see this one in a theatre, I highly recommend it just for the appreciation of the scope and magnitude. It was refreshing to see a decent idea executed competently, with fairly good writing and acting. People can say what they like about Tom Cruise but he didn’t star in the movie Non-Stop, which Liam Neeson did, and that movie was so bad I’m pretty sure it gave me shingles (a post for another day). So don’t get shingles and go see Tom Cruise in The Edge of Tomorrow.

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26 replies

  1. Shingles? From Liam Neeson? Ouch. Personally I think he is pretty sexy. Liam. Not Tom.

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  2. I liked The Edge of Tomorrow much more than I thought I would. I’ve never been a fan of that day-do-over thing. I didn’t like Groundhog day for that reason. But they did this one well. It didn’t get repetitive. And Tom Cruise was meant to be a movie star, no doubt there. I did, however, also like Non-Stop. Sorry, but it’s true…

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  3. Good review John. Had a whole lot of fun with this. Even if it was a gimmick movie. It was still a gimmick movie done right.

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  4. Saw this movie!!! Was pleasantly surprised as I hate Tom Cruise but the role really suited him. Much better than Oblivion. We watched this one in 3D. Loved the effects. I love Emily Blunt. She was great in Adjustment Bureau. Liam Neeson… A bit ‘dad’ like. He’s slick, but not as slick as Jeremy Renner or Matt Damon in the Bourne Series (still favourite action movies).

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  5. Hey….I have a confession to make. I thought Non-Stop was decent. A decent bit of stupid fun! Now Taken 2 is the worst mainstream movie that I have ever seen but I feel that Neeson came back a bit with Non-Stop!

    As for Edge…I seen it last Monday and have been slacking on my review! I agree with you though! It is worth the movie ticket and a really good time in general!

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    • Well, I just thought there were too many things that just weren’t believable. The bad guys motivations: Security discrepencies? Really? Hey, disgruntled soldier, any public sphere is going to have massive holes where security can be breeched. To have perfect security would bankrupt the country and mean no kind of air or bus travel whatsoever. Smoking in the toilet? No way, that would stink up the plane even with ventilation and tape blocking. That plane would be on red alert. And the up to the second newscast even though they had almost no information and details would not be released for fear of causing a panic. And lastly, after Neeson is looking guilty as hell, and no one is trusting him, he gives a silly speech about his daughter having cancer and he was working and couldn’t be with her as much as he wanted to. So that’s why he smokes and drinks alcoholicly. And everyone just goes: Oh you poor man, little girls dying of cancer makes you noble and good. And you told us of your regret. You must be honest! No one said “uh, maybe he is full of shit.” My wife and I laughed at that speech. That’s always the trump card. A young girl in distress. It just wasn’t a movie I enjoyed. And I refuse to see Taken 2.

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      • Oh I can totally understand. It is totally stupid but I had fun with it. Kind of like the Expendables! Plus I love thrillers where you are constantly wondering what is going on. I just reviewed a really clever one actually. Some work and some do not.

        Non-Stop had a decent set-up but a really dumb conclusion. The reasoning behind it stunk! And yeah…the speech was hilarious! The writer has wrote a few thrillers and always forgets to include logic in them!

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      • I think it also depends on the mood you’re in at the time.

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  6. I really enjoyed it as well– it’s just summer fun. I hadn’t thought about the fact that it’s like a video game… that makes a lot of sense. The world would have died though, because I fail at video games and can never remember when to jump etc.

    Non-Stop was oh so bad. Though that night lives in infamy because I left the movie theatre and found out one of my posts had gone viral on reddit and I was being assaulted by tens of thousands of trolls. It helped ease the ache of such an awful storyline though.

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  7. Good read. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with this release yet but it does sound like a lot of fun. I do love a bit of time travel! That said, I did watch Non-Stop recently and didn’t think it was that bad…apart from a convoluted ending and some horrid CGI.

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  8. I saw the movie. Sometimes you get to see something unexpectedly good, and this was the case.

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