There is no getting past this. Every time I write a review for a Tom Cruise movie, I have to talk about Tom Cruise. The man is just astonishing. Without a doubt one of my favorite actors alive, Cruise has something that many actors and/or actresses simply do not: guts. In a world where stunt doubles rule over action scenes, Cruise gives that the middle finger. There is no possible way to watch that Dubai scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol without a dropped jaw, especially when you realize Cruise himself was climbing that building and not a double. He does his own stunts, so that’s great and unique. But he also nails dramatic scenes, as well comedic scenes. He’s an actor of range, and that’s why I love him. Hollywood realizes this too, which is why they tend to always put him in the leading heroic roles. But it’s a change up in Edge of Tomorrow when Cruise is confused, lost, and in need of help. It humanizes him. He isn’t playing the cliched character who has all the answers all the time. He wakes up, reliving a day he had just experienced, and has no idea what is happening. We, the audience, are expected to be confused and eager to learn why this is happening, but it’s a refreshing change to have the main character experience that confusion as well. Jumping to the point, this movie rocks.
What a relief it is to say that. Quite frankly, I was never excited to this movie because I had the same reaction as most average moviegoers after seeing the trailer. “So basically it’s Oblivion 2?” That couldn’t be further from the truth. I didn’t hate Oblivion, but I have to admit that it got really corny after the halfway point. Much like that movie, this movie seems to be getting a lot of reviews criticizing the ending (that being the only main collaborative complaint as the film is getting great reviews). Obviously, I won’t spoil anything for you, as this is a non spoiler review site, but I will voice my opinion on it and say that I liked the ending a heck of a lot better than the second half of Oblivion. The movie has the plot line of Cruise’s character having to go back and relive a certain day over and over again, and the third act kind of abandons that aspect’s importance, but I didn’t hate it because once we got there it was established that there was no need (and no way) for his character to relive his day again. So for that reason I can’t agree with those who complain about the ending because there wasn’t as many scenes of him resetting. Get it? For those who have seen the movie, hopefully you understand what I’m saying as I am trying not to spoil anything for those who haven’t. Going back to talking about the story, the main surprise of this movie was how well the “reset” scenes actually resulted. Much like Source Code, another really good science fiction film, Edge of Tomorrow (and the book it’s based on) clearly takes inspiration from Groundhog Day. Thankfully though, it pulls it off extremely well, never trying to be something it’s not. The poster may lead you to believe that this movie tries to be something dark and gritty, and while it is violent, action packed, and thrilling, it is actually quite hilarious. It knows what it is. It’s a story about a man who keeps dying and waking up to relive the same day, and the way the movie knows how funny that scenario can be. About halfway through the movie I actually said to myself, “I can’t believe how much this movie is making me laugh.” The scenes are well written, funny, and smart. Kudos to screenwriters John-Henry and Jez Butterworth, as well as Christopher McQuarrie (McQuarrie is also the writer/director of Jack Reacher, also starring Cruise and will helm the upcoming Mission Impossible entry… which will also star Cruise, of course. Fun fact of the day.)
I could go on and on about Tom Cruise as an actor, but I’ll stick with this movie in particular. He’s really, really good in the movie. Like, really good. As he always is. He is no stranger to science fiction films. Minority Report is a masterpiece, War of the Worlds is really good, and Oblivion was kind of decent. It’s great to have him in a great sci-fi movie again. Also, his stunts are, once again, incredible. There is a shot of Cruise falling from the sky after ejecting from a plane, and he spirals down to the ground whilst a battle is going on in the background. One long take. And I watched in awe, thinking of how great it is that we have an actor doing real stunts that movie lovers can appreciate. I loved it. So, Cruise was great, but the main attention is on the supporting work of both Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton. Blunt is a brute force of sexual tension as the tough, rough, and sexy war commander. Not only are her looks great, but she has an effective screen presence of drama and intrigue. She gives the best performance in the film. And then there’s Bill Paxton, hitting a comedic note perfectly with basically every line he’s given. It was also nice to see Brendan Gleeson show up for a few scenes, which I did not expect at all.
Before I end this review and recommend every science fiction lover out there to see it, I want to quickly address Doug Liman, the director. He hasn’t had a great career, but the work he has done has been enough to generate interest from casual moviegoers. Most people have seen The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which the film’s marketing so proudly promotes. I like both of those films, the former more than the latter. About Liman, though, I have to say that he really blew me away with Edge of Tomorrow. Yes, the action was filmed good in both of those movies, and even Jumper, but here it just felt so cool to watch. This movie deals with soldiers in robotic uniforms fighting aliens. The aliens actually looked cool. The machine gun firing was authentic and hard hitting. The camera shots were sometimes jaw dropping. Liman set all that up so surprisingly well, and when you add to that the placing of the characters in their situations and the overarching humorous tone, it’s really something special. This is probably Liman’s most well directed film.
Edge of Tomorrow was shaping up to be Oblivion 2. A dull science fiction movie that used Tom Cruise to get the studio’s money back. Instead, it’s one of the best science fiction movies of recent years. Edge of Tomorrow is fast paced, action packed, well acted, finely directed, and ultimately smart science fiction entertainment.