As of today, rottentomatos.com has Edge of Tomorrow listed as 90% fresh. I don’t think it deserved such high praise as I thought it was good, but definitely not great.
In the near future, Earth is under attack from these bio-mechanical aliens and Tom Cruise’s character, Major Bill Cage, is thrust into humanity’s last big push on a beach much like D-Day. Cage gains powers that allow him to keep reliving the same day of the invasion over and over again after dying, much like Groundhog Day, thus giving him the time to train and improve his fighting skills to defeat the aliens.
Directed by Doug Liman who did The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the plot is entertaining enough to watch Cage develop and grow from an outright coward to a military fighting machine veteran. It’s refreshing to see Tom Cruise play someone else other than the immediate hero as he involuntarily is thrown into the role. Many people bash on Cruise, but I genuinely like the actor and respect his diverse line of work, so I’m not one of those people who jumped on board just to see Tom Cruise die dozens of times. I believe he’s a very underrated comedian and he does well in adding some fun and light moments before his numerous deaths.
Emily Blunt plays Rita Vrataski, a hard as nails soldier who is famous for killing over 100 aliens, but only because she too had the same power as Cage. This makes her the ideal teacher and partner for Cage to learn from and team up with to win the war. Emily Blunt flawlessly slips into this role without much of a hitch as I most notably remember her from 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada and it seems Blunt’s very apt at playing the somewhat cocky and bullish costar, which isn’t a terrible thing. She really thrives as Cruise’s superior and helps steer and ground his character.
The film does well in having a good amount of action and I enjoyed all the tech and exosuits, but it did little in divulging the origins of these aliens and what they were really capable of. Because there was little backstory to these aliens, they ended up being just target practice for the characters with little weight or relevance. I wholeheartedly believe that the magnitude of any hero is measured by the power and threat posed by the enemy, and these aliens, although powerful, were pretty much lame. This oversight weakened the story for me as it seemed to borrow much from Starship Troopers. They were just evil bugs.
But what really killed it for me was that this movie was simply a video game brought to life. The main character goes into battle and keeps dying, but learns from his mistakes as the enemy cannot adapt to what the hero has learned from his previous life. Thus, Live. Repeat. Die, the life of a gamer. I think many critics lauded such a story element, but it bothered me because I felt like I was watching someone else play a video game, and if I wanted to do such, I would rather be the one to play than watch someone else. As Cruise’s character keeps getting better and further into the “level”, I couldn’t stop thinking how stupid this was because unlike a small fraction of movies, in video games the hero always wins. Always. So when I made such a connection, it magnified the expectation that Cruise would eventually win. Now, I’m not ignorant to think most movies don’t end up in the same vein, but I think movies are a bit more creative than video games in reaching the foreseen and expected victory. [Spoiler] Towards the end, Cage loses his groundhog power and the movie transforms into a typical action-thriller and loses its uniqueness and the only small thing it had going for it. I know I’m complaining about it, and it was a bit overkill as I think I read Cruise dies about 75 times, but I think the story would have been better going all in with this gamble than pull back and resort to typical plot devices.
I think I need to rewatch this and perhaps I’ll have a more favorable opinion afterwards, but for now I’ll just say that it’s at least better than Cruise’s last film, Oblivion.