Tom Cruise Blasts The Alien Threat To The EDGE OF TOMORROW
Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s cult novel of military sci-fi action ALL YOU NEED IS KILL was a quiet sensation, slowly building from fan favorite to industry hot property. Now, after a little re-tooling and some Americanization, the big screen version starring Tom Cruise (as the re-named hero Cage), and Emily Blunt as the heroine fighter named Rita (or Full Metal Bitch) is currently blasting plasma gun holes in the psyches of genre fans in multiplexes across the globe.
The story is basically a simple one. Cage is a military PR man, who holds the rank of Major, but when he is informed by General Brigham (played by the always incredible Brendan Gleeson) that he will indeed be landing with the troops in a Normandy style invasion, the cowardly Cage does all the fast talking he can to get himself out of danger. Resorting to a thinly veiled attempt at blackmail, the yellow “soldier” finds himself bumped down to buck private, and is still on his way to the life threatening battle against the invading alien horde known as Mimics, which are bio-mechanical, amorphis beasts that move faster than humans are able to react. The soldiers’ only chance at survival is their mech-like battle suits, called Jackets. Exoskeletons armed to the teeth with brutal weaponry and almost limitless firepower.
The landing is a disaster, leaving Cage’s J-platoon dead, and him narrowly escaping death multiple times, until Cage lucks out and kills an Alpha, a super Mimic. This sets into motion the time-bending aspect of EDGE OF TOMORROW. The Alphas are connected to the Mimics, and their hives “head”, an Omega, and when Cage destroys the Alpha, the Omega kicks in it’s most vicious defense mechanism, the ability to re-set time. Now Cage finds himself reliving the same day over and over, dying thousands of times on the battlefield until he has everything timed to the millisecond, like a video game player mastering a particularly difficult level. Soon, Cage is hooked up with Rita, the warrior princess, who has also had experience caught in a time loop after also killing an Alpha. Together, again, they meet their demise over and over while slowly figuring out with each death, how to find and defeat the hive mastermind that is the Omega.
Now, it’s way too easy to dismiss another Tom Cruise headlined sci-fi vehicle as Hollywood pap. In those previous films’ defense, Cruise has always been at least serviceable in genre efforts like WAR OF THE WORLDS and MINORITY REPORT (easy to forget both are helmed by Steven Spielberg as well), and the recent (and in my opinion, unjustly maligned) OBLIVION.
But EDGE OF TOMORROW? This is an entirely different ball game people. I have a lot of love for the films mentioned, but this latest foray into sci-fi action for Cruise is more than just fun, it’s plain ole’ bad-assness that perfectly mixes the hyper-kinetic energy of a first person shooter, puts a nice twist on the timewarp trope, and doesn’t skimp on showing the brutality of ground war, futuristic or not. Body parts fly, blood gushes, and death is a constant presence. Director Doug Liman (the BOURNE trilogy) is a thinking person’s Michael Bay, crafting high action without completely abandoning logic. With enough attention paid to characterization, the action scenes in EDGE OF TOMORROW carry more weight and danger, the audience knows that no one is safe, even the hero.
EDGE OF TOMORROW is simply put, perfect ass-kicking popcorn munching fun. This one will eventually live on my film shelf alongside ALIENS, TERMINATOR, STARSHIP TROOPERS, and recently, the admittedly cartoonish PACIFIC RIM (that’s right…I said it…PACIFIC RIM ftw!). Lovingly rendered, and respectful of it’s core-audience and source material, EDGE OF TOMORROW stands among the top of this summers tentpole releases, and comes of as much more than a a hopeful start to a making-money-by-the-ton franchise, or a hero wish fulfillment trip by Cruise. This is top flight stuff, and well worth your dollars in the summer movie wars. I’ll be seeing it again on my own dime, maybe more than once, and I will be buying the bluray when it drops. That’s the highest endorsement I can give ANY movie. I’ll watch it again. And then I’ll watch it again. And again. Unlike the protagonists of EDGE OF TOMORROW, their deadly future is my entertainment, and one I don’t mind reliving over and over. Plus, it has my man Bill Paxton in it, in a small, semi-disposable, but damned fun role as bad Master Sargeant Farrel.
My advice is to run, not walk, to see EDGE OF TOMORROW.
Other entertainments for those who enjoy this film
TERMINATOR (TERMINATOR SALVATION in particular, I loved that flick!)
THE LONGEST DAY (classic epic WW2 film)
THE LAST WAR (a hard to find disaster epic from Japan, 1961)
TIME AFTER TIME
THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman
STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert Heinlien
ARMOE by John Steakley
THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT series by Harry Harrison
THE SWORD – Warp Riders
Brendon Smalls’ GALAKTIKON album
FORBIDDEN PLANET ost – Bebe and Louis Barron