Making the world safe for filmgoers since 2002.
THE EDGE OF TOMORROW is everything a cracking good action/adventure/sci-fi film should be. Fluidly directed, ferociously acted, and intelligently written, it even takes the time to consider such lofty issues as the ennui of immortality and the nature of reality as it blows up nifty monsters from outer space. Blows them up real good. It’s also a triumph for star Tom Cruise, who dares to essay a character with an actual growth arc. His square-jawed good looks and charisma serving the sniveling media hack at the beginning as effectively as the square-jawed hero he has become at the end. For all the kinetically dazzling special effects and slick, grisly action, it’s Cruise himself to is the most compelling element of a story that embodies the pleasures and perils to be found in the endless do-overs found in computer games. He’s Major William Case, an advertising man who has thrown his talents into putting the best face on a losing war humanity is fighting against those nifty monsters I mentioned before. In the final push to defeat them and take back Europe, the commander of the Earth’s combined military forces (Brendan Gleeson), orders Case to be imbedded with the first wave to storm the French beachhead. When Case shows his true color, that would be yellow, he finds himself stripped of his rank and sent unprepared into that battle with a ragtag squad painfully unaware that they are just so much fodder for an enemy of sinuously roiling tentacles. Case performs as expected, that is until he dies, which finds him right back at the start of his very bad day, and doomed to relive it over and over, resetting to that start every time he dies. Which is often. As in GROUNDHOG DAY, EDGE’s spiritual, if not genre, forbearer, Case slowly comes to understand with each reply that there is a bigger picture around him, a trope handle with a deft sleight-of-hand that prevents it from ever becoming either tedious or precious. Case also comes to understand that the public face of the war, and the public relations department’s dream, super-warrior Rita (Emily Blunt) is more than just the Angel of Verdun (shades of World War I), she’s the key part of Case’s puzzle. Why her lethal weapon of choice resembles an oversized cricket bat is never explained, and in the grand scheme of things, I suppose that’s okay. The references to the two world wars can’t be a coincidence, particularly with the release date, June 6, being the anniversary of D-Day, an invasion of a French beach not unlike the one depicted with such stark intensity in the film (shades of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). Considering that one of the themes at work here is the nature of heroism, it’s hardly a hollow tribute, or a cheap one. Nor is it a stale one. The story delights in the ironies and peculiarities of a man who knows exactly what will happen next, creating an impeccable internal logic for what is happening, and also providing an equally solid, and suspenseful, device for Case, and/or those he has come to care about, to die once and for all. Just for fun, there is Noah Taylor as the particle physicist reduced to maintenance engineer for his radical theories about the space invaders that are, of course, entirely correct. One other nice thing about EDGE OF TOMORROW is that it never succumbs to the temptation, and perhaps studio pressure, to throw in a gratuitous romance. No doubt Case falls for Rita. Who wouldn’t come to worship the person who teaches him how face battle, even if she’s also the one putting a bullet in his head when the time comes to reset? But for all the puppy-dog looks from Cruise, Blunt is always true to Rita’s fierce focus on getting the job done. The signature line of their relationship isn’t a drippy bit of romance, it’s her urgent order for him to find her when he wakes up. Not bad advice for any relationship.