Full disclosure: I’ve been a science fiction/fantasy fan since Star Wars blew my mind away in 1977. It’s very difficult for me not to enjoy a sci-fi flick, and I am mostly forgiving when it fails, which genre films have a tendency to do. For example, I am one of three people I know that actually liked Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion, which starred Tom Cruise sulking about on a post-apocalyptic, post-alien invasion earth. I forgave it for everything it did wrong, simply because I liked the way it looked.
Now, Tom Cruise is back for a summer movie mea culpa and I think most folks are going to be much more pleased with this effort. Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) this tight, always moving mixture of war movie, classic alien invasion story, and time travel goodness puts Cruise and co-star Emily Blunt in the roles of near-future super soldiers who, in the face of impossible odds, strike a plan to defeat an overwhelming alien invasion of Earth.
Catching a ride on a meteor, a quickly multiplying hive-mind, beastly race of space squids have landed in Europe and are steadily wiping out all of Europe. A united humanity has thrown all of its military might against the threat, but to no avail. We have lost every battle but one (where apparently Emily Blunt’s character, Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski, opened up an GINORMOUS can of whoop-ass). But we can’t win the war because the aliens have a secret weapon – they can repeat any day they wish, learning from any mistakes and correcting them for another attempt.
No one knows this is happening until Cruise’s Lt. Col. Bill Cage, takes a “special alien” blood shower and also gains the time-bending ability. It’s a bit of a Groundhog Day (the classic Bill Murray comedy) conceit, but the spin on it is that the day only resets if Cage dies. As he is not a soldier but essentially a punished army deserter, it’s a painful and lengthy learning curve. He dies a lot, providing unexpected comedic moments, something Doug Liman is known for. At this point, the familiar growth cycle for the reluctant hero dominates the story line, but it is fun watching Cruise go from wussy man to skull-crushing warrior as he builds the skills to pay the bills.
It’s a very direct film. Subplots are nowhere to be found, but I didn’t notice or care as I was too busy having my speculative military hardware fetish seriously indulged. There are all kinds of neat powered armor, big guns, human tanks, and vehicles running around the battlefield, and they look great. The overall art design is plausible and authentic. I haven’t had this geek itch scratched in such a satisfying manner since James Cameron’s Aliens. His Colonial Space Marines were just the epitome of badass.
Perhaps the casting of Bill Paxton (Aliens, Twister) is a nod to that film. His small role as a Master Sergeant is a delight and a perfect addition. And for those that are deep down sci-fi nuts as myself, I can’t help but be reminded of Warhammer 40k game world as well. (If you don’t know what I’m referencing, don’t sweat it. It’s not that important.) The film does have a direct influence, as it was adapted from the popular manga, All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.
Edge of Tomorrow is an exciting sci-fi action film that never stops. Definitely worth seeing, but don’t bother with the 3D version. The additional effect didn’t add anything to the experience.