Furious action, sci-fi movie that’s an extremely well-edited looper. Edge of Tomorrow is the rare movie that excited me as much as with its explosions as it did with the meaning of the action driving the story. You have to accept the preposterous premise of a soldier re-living the same futuristic D-Day kind of battle against aliens over and over again, tweaking his cognitive decision-making, in an endless attempt to figure out how to defeat them. Important: It’s not fun to die over and over again in battle, but one can get used to it. Some will cite “Groundhog Day” as an inspiration, but I say it’s closer to the underrated “Source Code.” Tom Cruise has done sci-fi before, but he has a more interesting (if reluctant) hero to play this time. Emily Blunt is a natural born action star, brains and physique.
The root invasion on the aliens turns into a slaughter of the good guys. This is the turning tide of the war where the aliens will win, and the Earthlings won’t have much resources left to fight back. The terrifying Mimics, who charge under the ground and pop out at under-equipped armies, are taken right out of “Starship Troopers” and those parasite things that attack the ship in “The Matrix” movies. The only way to take them down is not to beat them on the battlefield, but to defeat the Omega “brain” source that controls its attackers. Last year’s “Oblivion” and “Pacific Rim” also had brain sources that needed to be annihilated.
It sounds like “Edge of Tomorrow” is a hodgepodge of dozens of other movies. Maybe it is, but it’s a sensational hodgepodge, and I love any kind of tricky editing techniques that get me thinking on a “Memento” level. Your eyes are glued to the screen because you’re wondering how many times has Cruise’s Major William Cage re-experience a particular scenario. There is a scene where Cruise, and Blunt – nicknamed the “Full Metal Bitch” – are in a barn trying to get a helicopter started. Is this their first time here or have they been here before? You come to realize that Cruise is playing Blunt a little bit. This is perhaps a little payback after Blunt has turned Cruise into a soldier after starting out as a little bit of a puss.
The ending is a piece of cockamamie, but it’s a clever piece of cockamamie. The modern Hollywood blockbuster has always strived to have it both ways, an ending of portend disaster that somehow finds crowd-pleasing uplift. I had to think about it for a couple of minutes after I walked out, but I enjoyed the fact that I had to think during an action picture. As long as the characters can live with themselves, then I can live with what they’ve done, too. And it’s thoroughly exciting, and I liked those damn explosions.
I think I’m in for some déjà vu in the years to come – I can imagine re-watching this movie over and over. This is the first time a movie from Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”) has made me feel that way. So it’s flawed, but so what? It’s the most fantastic thrill-a-minute kind of entertainment.
113 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
SCI-FI & FANTASY / ACTION FANS / FRIDAY NIGHT MIND-BENDER