Monday, 2 June 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise as a PR man for the American military in a losing war against an invading alien force called "Mimics". After he tries to blackmail his way out of a dangerous assignment, he is demoted and sent to the front line, only to die after mere minutes of combat... and then to wake up again, living through the same day, again and again, reviving everytime he dies.

If this was the worst movie ever, it would still be good for people who hate Tom Cruise. Alas, it isn't. It is actually one of the best blockbusters to come out in recent years. In terms of originality, its individual parts don't add up to much. There is some Saving Private Ryan, a decent splash of Phillip K. Dick and an obvious influence of Groundhog Day. But Edge of Tomorrow is more than the sum of its parts. Director Doug Liman manages to use the time loop element to great comedic and dramatic effect at the same time.

The video game influence on this is very obvious, and it bears a certain irony that the worlds first good movie based on a video game is not based on a video game. There is a wonderful death-to-progress element to it. On his first run-through, the only thing Cruises character Cage manages is to accidentally switch his weapons operating system into Japanese. A good deal of trial and error later he has upgraded his skills significantly and unlocks a trainer in Emily Blunts "Angel of Verdun", Rita Vrataski.

There is a clear formula here and it could get repetitive or meaningless, but the screenplay shakes it up constantly. It deliberately leaves us in the dark about just how many times Cruise has been in this scene already. And in a movie in which death equates to a mere reset to a save point Liman constantly finds ways to keep dying impactful.

Another strong point here are the characters. Where the source material took a rather bland new recruit and made him into a hero, here we get a smug scumbag who does PR only to not have to fight. He is arrogant, weasely and a terrible soldier. But all that changes gradually over time, especially after he finds his mentor in Blunts Rita Vrataski. Who. Is. A. Badass.

She has been through the same ordeal that Cage is going through and quickly becomes his guide, putting him on his mission and fighting alongside him. At the same time, there is a great montage of him coaching her through the battlefield that is at the same time heart-wrenching and funny, which might be a first for any blockbuster ever.

Finally, the movie looks beautiful. Liman has built a reputation by introducing the shaky-cam to every hollywood movie ever with the Bourne Identity, which for the most part was a bad idea, because apart from Paul Greengrass, no one has made it work since then. But Liman knows what he's doing, when to show us a shot, when to give us quick cuts. The Aliens are menacing and have a nice unique style and their twitching movements work really well with the 3D.

So that's it, see the movie, it's my second favourite action movie this year so far, a close second behind The Winter Soldier. Cruise has never been bad in a stunt scene and for a blockbuster, this has an incredibly smart story.

And as with any great movie, my friend Cinemartian has seen it and given his thoughts over on his blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment