Though comparisons to the premises of “Source Code,” recent video games (what gameplay doesn’t feature redos?), and even last year’s “Oblivion” are inescapable, “Edge of Tomorrow” doesn’t let the recycled concepts hinder the fun. Star Tom Cruise gratifyingly infuses his customarily likeable movie persona into the protagonist, who, through multiple montages of trial-and-error attempts at altering the future, creates an engaging, routinely humor-filled and occasionally bittersweet relationship with costar Emily Blunt. Unexpectedly clever surprises keep the anticipation and mystification rolling, while the action sequences are plentiful and intense - despite questionably distinct creature designs. Predictably, adequate explanation is lacking in both the extraterrestrial hierarchy and what governs the time travel aspects (rules!), but the film’s triumph is that most audiences will be entertained to the point that they won’t care to pick apart the inconsistencies.
In the ongoing war against a deadly race of alien invaders, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) revels in promoting the heroic soldiers and aggrandizing the numerous conflicts. But when General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders Cage to the frontlines to bolster support for Operation Downfall, a dangerous push across France to corner the “Mimic” monstrosities, the cowardly soldier refuses. Arrested and sent to Heathrow base, Cage is forced to take part in the invasion as a member of the ragtag infantry unit J-Squad.
After meeting his demise while fighting an unusually large mimic, Cage awakens back at the base, not only alive but also at an earlier point in time, from which he proceeds to relive the day all over again. When he perishes anew while attempting to protect decorated soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), and again finds himself reverting back to a previous point in time, he discovers that his death triggers a loop that allows the day to repeat. With his newfound ability, Cage must continuously retrace his steps to locate and destroy the enemy’s power source – and find a potential future where Rita survives.
Cruise has once more chosen a project that proves to be superior to the first impressions of the generic trailers, taglines, and synopsis. On the outside, it’s a “Groundhog Day” storyline planted firmly in the confines of a science-fiction actioner, which takes the uniqueness of the aforementioned film’s angle and puts it in common territory. But despite the futurism tropes and the ensuing Normandy Beach-styled alien assault catalyst, “Edge of Tomorrow” packs numerous twists and gimmicks that surprisingly work in its favor.
Though the visuals include clunky armor like an implausibly more cumbersome Robocop suit, and the monster designs appear borrowed from the squids of “The Matrix,” it’s the occurrences of time travel that will stimulate audiences with a mind for complexities and thought-provoking situations. Time is manipulated as a recurring experience rather than traversed with a dimension-transiting machine, while motivations for adapting, learning, and even falling in love are more affecting than explosions or gunplay. For Cage, shock and disbelief morph into memorizations and knowledge (which lend to taking advantage of the scenario) before aspirations of righteousness finally sink in. And at the heart of it all is plenty of humor to complement the suspense, which capably presides over the necessary repetition and aids in simplifying the overlooking of reasoning that haunts the last act. In the conclusion, satisfaction wins out (along the lines of a Hollywood ending) without completely straying from the themes of the source material (the Japanese light novel “All You Need Is Kill”), though the logic is altogether out of sync with the rest of the universe – and resultantly open for countless interpretations.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)