Have you ever watched the Bill Murray/Harold Ramis classic “Groundhog Day” and thought, ‘you know, there just aren’t enough squid looking aliens in this film.’ Well relax movie fans; “Edge of Tomorrow” is here to fulfill all of your time-loop dreams. “Edge of Tomorrow” is a near carbon copy of “Groundhog Day” just shifted to the science fiction genre. But that’s no slight against it, as the film strikes a balance between action, humor and just enough pathos to keep everybody entertained.
Tom Cruise stars as an Army Press Officer who is forced into the front lines to in an attempt to destroy an invading alien force. A coward and comically untrained, Cruise’s William Cage ends up blowing himself and an alien up. As a result, the alien’s blood mixes in with Cage’s and he finds that he has the ability to live the day over and over again as long as he dies. With the help of a skilled soldier named Rita, played by Emily Blunt, who had the same thing happen to her before she lost the power, trains him and together they attempt to win the war.
Believe it or not, the whole idea of repeating time isn’t the most questionable thing in the movie – no that honor goes to why a military officer who works specifically as a glorified publicist would be sent into battle for no good reason. Credit goes to the screenwriters and director Doug Liman on keeping the concept as grounded as it could be. They take a few quick scenes about half-an-hour into the movie to explain the rules of the world, and then its just sit back and enjoy the ride.
It’s a fun ride as well. The action sequences aren’t anything that new or exceptional, but what makes the film work so well is the editing of Cage’s progression from coward to super soldier. Quick cuts and jumps are used not only to fast-forward the pace, but also to provide humor. The editing is the real MVP of the film.
Coming in at a close second is the chemistry between Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Cruise’s cowardly lion and Blunt’s tough-as-nails soldier may be on opposite ends of the spectrum at the start of the film, but these two never miss a beat. Much like the film, they are at their best when everything around them is going fast and they are reacting quickly to one another, but scenes when they are alone and not in battle offer a nice emotional resonance to the film. Each of them handles both scenarios extremely well.
For anybody that has seen “Groundhog Day,” when you look back at everything that happens “Edge of Tomorrow” you’ll recognize that the beats are nearly identical. Lead character doesn’t want to be where he is, he is at first confused but quickly learns that he is stuck in the same day again and again, he tries and fails to get himself out of it, he improves himself, he falls for the girl, etc.
Despite all this, and why “The Edge of Tomorrow” is a solid summer blockbuster is that while you’re watching it you don’t catch all that. You’re enjoying what is on the screen enough that you don’t care if you’ve seen this movie before, albeit in Punxsutawney, PA and sans mecha-armor.
There’s an idea in literature that there are only about six different types of stories. So to create a successful piece you take one of those six stories and tinker it to fit a particular vision that you have. That is what “Edge of Tomorrow” did and that is why it works. Even “Star Wars” borrowed heavily from one of Akira Kurosawa’s films. Now “Edge of Tomorrow” is not in the same league as “Star Wars,” but by donning this practice and executing it so effectively Doug Liman and company made a movie chalk full of entertainment, and in the summer months sometimes that is all you’re looking for.
Now, all we have to do is wait until someone on the Internet ends up mashing “Groundhog Day” and “Edge of Tomorrow” into a singular trailer and we can call it a day.