"What I am about to tell you sounds crazy. But you have to listen to me. Your very lives depend on it. You see, this isn't the first time."
In the not too distant future, earth finds itself under attack from some kind of parasitic alien force. During the landing an officer who has never seen combat, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), has an encounter with a new kind of creature they haven’t encountered before. Dying almost immediately, Cage finds himself waking up the morning of the attack, alive again. Slowly but surely, with the help of a fellow soldier who knows what is happening to him (Emily Blunt), a plan is formed to save the world and cure Cage of his recurring life.
In humanities war against an inteerstellar threat out greatest weapon is good PR. Here enters Tom Cruise initially playing the type of character you would normally see in your average Tom Cruise film, a media liaison for the military who’s levels of charm and smarm almost outdo those of Jerry Maguire. However, it’s after the initial few scenes that Cruise’s performance quickly shifts gears and you see truly what type of man Major Cage is (spoiler alert, it’s not as badass as his name would indicate). Cruise creates a character in Cage that not only manages to surprise audiences on his initial turn but keep them engage with this growth throughout the film. You truly believe in his incompetence and naivety in the beginning just as you believe his fighting skills and gunplay (on display in the horribly miss marketed trailer) as Cage grows and learns more about his predicament and his enemy alongside the audience in a truly great performance. Blunt, who I believe is emerging as a great talent for the current generation, holds her own in a role that didn’t really give her enough to sink her teeth into. Yes, while there are moments of humanity and compassion that shine through the gruff exterior of her character, they are few and far between and it would have been nice to see an actress of her caliber given something a tad deeper to play with. Bill Paxton rounds out the cast nicely in a role that is about as meaty as his moustache and he steals scene after scene as the over-the-top platoon leader, almost playing in opposition to the other famous military role he played in "Aliens" as the wimpy and withering Hudson.
The film, directed by Doug Liman (of "Mr & Mrs. Smith" and "The Bourne Identity" fame), is beautiful to look at. The action scenes are choreographed brilliant, never giving the audience too much to look at while still capturing the confusion and muddleness of battle. Where Liman truly excels in his direction though is in the quieter moments of the film (a scene taking place in an abandoned farm out in particular) that harken back to the indie films he started his career making (most notably "Swingers" and "Go"). In line with this it’s important to point out just how funny the film actually is. The injection of levity (which I have to imagine is a combination of Liman and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie) helps break the monotony of the repeating nature of the story as well as the numerous action sequences, as enjoyable as they are.
Despite being marketed as a typical Hollywood action blockbuster, "Edge of Tomorrow" is so much more. While the story will inevitably be viewed as a rehashing of "Groundhog Day", it manages to become so much more. The believability in the performances, the well directed and managed action set pieces and most importantly the fun and enjoyment of the whole piece make this not only one of the best films of 2014 so far but almost one of the best science fiction films in a long time. Don’t believe the advertising material, this truly is a great film.
8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Chris Swan