Edge of Tomorrow is the apocalyptic alien invasion film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. The film revolves around Army PR Lt Col Bill Cage who has been roped in to make the war against terrifying aliens named "Mimics" look well enough for the public to invest in it. However, when General Bingham decides that Cage needs to be on the front line, filming the soldiers who are fighting the war – Cage refuses and is subsequently arrested as a deserter and forced to fight. When he hits the ground as a soldier, he is promptly killed. But when he wakes up, living the same day as before, he realises that something is not quite right. Hunting down super-soldier Rita Vrataski, he discovers that he is caught in a time loop and that his problem could be the solution to the war.
But is it good? Or is it bad? Cookie and Matthew decide!
I don’t know about you, but the state of science fiction is a dire one. Sure, comic book adaptations and young adult dystopian films are fantastic endeavours that have trail-blazed the genre, but there hasn’t been a mammoth science fiction blockbuster that captured the progression of space, aliens and all that futuristic stuff without the need of capes and spandex. Even if there was, it is often a film laden to independent features without many going to see it (Under The Skin) or falls over many hurdles (Lucy). This year, however, a film surpassed many of these components and burst onto screens with fresh ideas and stunning originality. And no one seemed to pay two minds to it.
I am, of course, talking about Edge of Tomorrow. Very few films recently have given me a heavy sense of satisfaction whilst watching it that I could proclaim my utmost enjoyment of it without lamenting my lack of comic book education or more. True, though it is based on a Japanese short story – it is not necessary to know of it. It is very fast and furious, punching you with repeated deaths and battle scenes that relentlessly hammer into your brain in this wonderful, brilliant way. It frolics on the beaches of France with bloody chaos and thrillingly holds your attention doing so.
Edge of Tomorrow is one of those films that demands your full attention straight from the beginning. The exposition, in the form of mass amounts of news clips, blasts into your psyche and from that point on, if you miss one iota of this film, you’ll feel a little lost. That being said, it’s mainly down to the highly intellectual and wonderfully mastered plot, deftly handled by screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth John-Henry Butterworth and director Doug Liman. The premise is wholly original, even if it takes elements of different films, it still is vastly different and is able to be exciting, tense and explosive. It’s innovative, with enough drama and fun to become vastly enjoyable.
Edge of Tomorrow is an impressive feature that takes a couple of re-watches in order for you to really appreciate its brilliance (though, I instantly regret not being absorbed by this film when it had its run in theatres and had to watch it on a tiny screen). But it's enthusiastic, enjoyable and exciting. There are plenty of homages and moments where you may feel like you’ve seen it before, but it holds true to a core of the film. It is a remarkable film that never panders to the 'Murica trope and its complexities are instead its advantages. It goes “balls out,” literally, and that passion makes it a completely impressive feature.
I’m the guy who liked Oblivion. Okay, I’m not ashamed to say it. It was one of the few sci-fi thrillers of recent years that I wasn’t ten steps ahead of the whole time. Sure, there were some hokey bits, but man, those drones were scary as hell and the picture kept me guessing.
I’m also not one to bash Tom Cruise. What was his crime? That he stood on a couch and got a little hyper about his fiancee. But if only that was the end of it. It’s not. The most disappointing, derivative facet of Edge of Tomorrow is the use of the “central core” concept. The goal of Cage and Rita is to kill the "Omega," the head of aliens who controls the time-travel bestowed onto Cage, the brain of the mimic organism. Once it dies, all the mimics die. This is one of the most over-used devices in motion pictures. Think about it, how many films have revolved around reaching a “central core” of some kind, destroying it, and thus saving the day? Who exactly is Edge of Tomorrow pickpocketing here?
Most obviously, the live, die, repeat device is utterly derivative of the classic Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day. It’s not hard to imagine the pitch for this movie being Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds. In Groundhog Day Bill Murray is an obnoxious reporter who must relive the same day until he learns to be a better person and get it right. Along the way he acquires all sorts of fabulous skills.
So yeah, the “central core” story device is getting a little stale. More so because, story-wise, this “central core” is right out of Starship Troopers while the visualization of the “central core” is so reminiscent of Pacific Rim in look and action you wonder if maybe they just borrowed the storyboards and color swatches.
What’s more, even the big, victorious reveal moment (Cage, speared by an alpha, drops the grenades he’s supposed to blow the omega up with. Only at the last second revealing he already pulled the pins) is literally a direct copy of the climactic moment of Spielberg’s almost excellent War of the Worlds, and even has the same fucking actor doing the deed.
And finally, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Yep. Remember that great bit in Bill and Ted when they need the keys to something, then decide to go back in time later and hide them, then find them where their future selves hid them? That idea, which was also nicely used in Minority Report is used again here. Like the concept of a “central core,” it’s getting stale.
On their own, none of these homages to other films would have been a problem, but added up, Edge of Tomorrow is just too much of a Frankenstein job, a beast pasted together from other films, to really achieve the excellence that it might have.
Which is too bad. Nothing is as frustrating as a good film that skirts so close to greatness.