“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
-Phil Conners (Groundhog Day)
In 2002, Tom Cruise entered uncharted territory with Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. This was Tom’s first foray into science fiction, and he hasn’t looked back since. Edge of Tomorrow, judging by its trailer, would be yet another forgettable sci-fi romp by an A-list actor. Good thing movies aren’t judged by their trailers; Edge of Tomorrow is fantastic! Director Doug Liman (Bourne Identity) has woven a compelling and intense action sci-fi thriller.
Cruise plays Major William Cage, a spoiled P.R. rep for the American military. The brilliance in Cruise’s performance is that Cage is unlike any character he’s played in a very long time. Cage is inept as a soldier and extremely unlikable. Cage goes to extreme lengths to avoid seeing military action, including blackmailing a commanding officer played by Brendan Gleeson. The character arc of Cage is worth seeing, and by the time you leave the theater you will have long forgotten the smug soldier at the beginning of the film. But Cruise isn’t alone; Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton prove to be worthy counterparts. Paxton plays the hilarious and quirky Master Sergeant Farell. Farell’s eccentric leadership brings humor and a sense of comfort to a film that at times can be brutal. Blunt plays Rita Vrataski, a Joan of Arc symbol for the new war. She is the one who the world rallies around and is the primary driving force behind Cage’s growth. Cage and Vrataski are tasked with saving the world through Cage’s new-found ability to re-live the same day over and over and over again.
With a premise that can quickly get tiresome, Edge of Tomorrow heads down a tough road. A road that only Groundhog Day and The Source Code have pulled off. These movies seem to influence the creators in the best possible way. The character name “Rita” is surely a nod to Groundhog Day, as well as a montage in which Cage tries to save the lives of everyone in his platoon to no avail. Much like The Source Code, instead of feeling dread every time Cage gets sent back to the starting point, we feel excited. Excited that this time he’ll make it. This is unique. It makes the film feel like a video game.
As delightful and fun as Edge of Tomorrow is, it’s not without its flaws. The main problem with the film is a lackluster ending. The source material All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (a far superior title) is much more bleak and impactful in its ending. The studio handprints are all over the ending because after all, we must have a satisfying epilogue. The first script by Dante Harper was on the 2010 Blacklist and was bought by Warner Bros. for $3 million dollars. But, of course, the script wasn’t good enough and an alternative ending had to be created to appeal to the mass audience.
Even with the uninspiring ending, Edge of Tomorrow is easily the best blockbuster since Captain America: Winter Soldier. It has a truly unique premise and an excellent supporting cast.