June 7, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow: Movie Review

Cruise and Blunt show that you can still have an amazing time in theaters without being too serious. Edge of Tomorrow is the summer blockbuster with brains, but don't get too caught up with the characters.

Edge of Tomorrow follows Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) as he is involuntarily recruited into a mission to reclaim Europe from an alien species. Cage soon learns that every time he is killed, his day is restarted. Fighting a losing war, Cage and his new partner Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) must find a way to defeat their enemy by using Cage's new power. It's Groundhogs Day with science fiction elements and few romantic moments, and it works wonderfully.  It qualifies as a perfect summer blockbuster because it has the brains, but they're hidden beneath a flashy facade full of beautiful visual effects and heart-throbbing action. This is the hot blond with a PhD in Astrophysics.

Don't be looking for a character study in this film. Even with its smarts, the characters are simple. The company of soldiers that Cage is thrust into are made up of forgetful faces and the other random secondary characters are just there for exposition. The simplistic detail of the characters is what makes the film work on a blockbuster scale. You care just enough to like them, but when they die you're not balling your eyes out. This is the Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt show and even they are somewhat simply characterized. Cage hides whatever past he's had. Instead his character focuses on the now. Vrataski lets out an occasional memory or two, but nothing that is ever focused on or mentioned later. It's the tidbits of her past and the back-and-forth with Cage that keeps you satisfied, because these two die a whole lot of times. There's not much reason to invest in a deeper character when the highest stake a filmmaker can draw for a character is the very thing the character is doing over and over again. The true genius is the few words that Cruise and Blunt have to say to each other for them to bring out their wonderful chemistry. Unfortunately, the film does miss an opportunity on a romance between Vrataski and Cage. There are slight nods to Cage's affection, but the main plot has so much to accomplish that a romantic subplot would throw the film of its hinges.

One of the more impressive feats of the film is the scope and scale of some of the scenes. The first major action sequence takes place on the beaches of France. Liman and cinematography Dion Beebe recreate a futuristic D-Day which can only be described as horrifically beautiful as gunships explode and soldiers die by the dozens. The bright lighting juxtaposes the chaos happening on screen. The beach battle features hundreds of soldiers and dozens of Drop Ships. It's the wide shots and sheer number of extras that make the battle seem large. A scene later in the film when Cage and Vrataski are running through a mobile home complex is shot from a distance so an audience can really get a feel for the environment and seclusion that the two soldiers are now facing on their own.

If you're worried about the time travel aspects, don't be. The creators handle the exposition quickly and with ease. Other aspects of the story may not be as easily to swallow, especially the ending. The creators quickly dig themselves a hole during the climax and cheat to get out. There's a certain Deus ex machina that suddenly jumps from a realistic ending to a less believable ending. Even with the outcome, the film ends too soon, but with a chance for a much more light-hearted sequel. 

Again, Edge of Tomorrow is the hot blond with a PhD in Astrophysics. The set designs and action sequences are amazing to watch, but the story is smarter than it needs to be. It's fun and lighter than the last few big names to come out of 2014. Sure, the characters aren't as deep as you want them to be, but any deeper and the time travel aspects would become muddled. 

Good Qualities: Great action, grand scope, fun premise, and smarter than your usual action blockbuster.
Bad Qualities: A missed opportunity of romance between Blunt and Cruise, cheated ending, character development is on the down-low.

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