Couldn’t you have come up with something better for a title? Really? I felt like I should be seeing an episode of Star Trek. Or perhaps Lady Gaga would appear at any moment, wearing disturbingly avant garde yet somehow still sexy robotic battle armor with unbelievable high heels, and belt out a song while pyrotechnics go off in the background.
Come on. The book this was based on was titled All You Need Is Kill. That’s an awesome title. Why not just stick with that?
Complaints about the title aside, I actually really liked this movie. Which surprised me, since I had read the review from Strange Horizons and went in all braced to reach the same kind of frothing rage levels to which Oblivion originally drove me. Which couldn’t be good for my blood pressure, but these are the things I do for you people. But I was pleasantly surprised, and I’m not sure if I will ever find it in my heart to forgive Tom Cruise for making me like him again, even if just a little.
The shortkey for Edge of Tomorrow‘s plot is “Groundhog Day as military scifi with an alien invasion.” Which is not inaccurate. Though Groundhog Day displayed a notable lack of powered battle armor that caused people to run like they were about to shit in their pants. And an even more profound lack of Emily Blunt’s arms. And I hope we can all agree that from this day forward, all movies should be required to give at least two full minutes of screen time to Emily Blunt’s arms.
Anyway, the plot.
Due to a MacGuffin, Tom Cruise (named Cage, as a nod to Keiji, hero of All You Need Is Kill) repeats the same day over and over again. Rita (Emily Blunt) had the MacGuffin until recently, but lost it for reasons that I’ll call good enough to pass. She works with Cage and a scientist who is the only person who believed her when she was repeating days to try and stop the alien invasion.
For the most part, it works. If you can accept the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey that goes on, the movie is actually a lot of fun. Cage dies a lot, and a lot of those times involve Rita shooting him in the head to reset him because he’s just fucked up that badly in his training. There’s snark, and some highly amusing deaths that made me laugh out loud. It was internally consistent with what it did, didn’t belabor the days repeating once the audience had gotten the point, and so on. The pacing was good, there were twists, I liked it.
Honestly, I have only two real complaints, which are a bit spoilery:
- Considering Rita makes it very clear early on in their partnership that she is so incredibly disinterested in having sex with Cage that it’s not even funny, I really could have done without the bit of romance that got thrown in there. I feel like it should have been more than enough for Cage to have a deep, mutual friendship with Rita, considering they’re literally the only two people on the planet that understand what the other person is going through. I consider it a small mercy that the actual bits of romance took up very little screen time, but I sure rolled my eyes when it did come up.
- The last five minutes. What the hell, man. Just. What the hell. It was precisely the expected cowardice we see in most films like this, where a potentially meaty ending gets completely short circuited by the desire to see the hero survive triumphant and get the girl. This ending also completely circumvents the MaGuffin rules (the timey-wimey gets way too wibbly-wobbly at this point) that have been faithfully obeyed throughout the entire rest of the movie, which made it extra annoying.
I came out of this really liking Rita as a character, by the way. For all that she was inextricably tied to Cage since he was the one with the MacGuffin and not her, I feel like throughout the film she was the force really pushing him along and keeping him moving. While he had to live day after day to choreograph their way through various scenarios, she hung ferociously on to her goal the entire time and kept pushing him. In the two occasions where he very overtly tries to “save” her to her face, she refuses to accept it. At the end, she even firmly tells him that neither of them are making it out alive and gives him a look that clearly communicates suck it up, cupcake. I really liked her. And her arms. But mostly her. (Also, I appreciated that the movie managed to refrain from making her a sex object except for pretty much one shot, which I will forgive because her arms. You don’t understand. I want to run away to the mountains and marry Emily Blunt’s arms.)
Tom Cruise did a credible job as Cage, leaving the scenery largely ungnawed. I personally felt like he did a good job of depicting (in perhaps uncharacteristically subtle ways) when given a chance just how the endless cycle of life and death was messing with him. It wasn’t nearly as explicit as what we saw in Groundhog Day, but it was there.
Smarter and much more internally consistent than your average big budget scifi/action tentpole, Edge of Tomorrow has left me pleased when I thought I wouldn’t be. But goddammit, that means I’m going to have to give Tom Cruise yet another chance. Curses!