Edge of Tommorow – The Greatest Video Game Movie Ever

GameStop, Inc.


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This summer it seems that every blockbuster has to feature the f-word – franchise. Where sequels are made to tease future sequels and sequels are made to undo previous sequels it is refreshing to encounter a sci-fi/action film that tells an entertaining, standalone story like Edge of Tomorrow.

Opening with an effective, though not inventive, montage of news footage to quickly establish setting. A meteor has crashed into Earth bringing with it an aggressive alien organism called Mimics that have begun to wage war against humanity. Following humanity’s first victory in Verdun, spearheaded by Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the military is planning a massive offensive off the French coast. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a slick-talking man who made the casual progression from marketing to wartime propaganda, is informed by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) that he will be on the front lines as part of the propaganda effort. Unable to slither out of his orders, Cage is apprehended under the General’s orders.

Awakening handcuffed on a military base, Cage learns from Master Sergeant Farrell (Bill Paxton) that he’s been branded a deserter and been demoted to private. Now part of an infantry unit though he’s never received any combat training, Cage must storm the beach and fight the Mimic scourge. Only the offensive turns into an ambush, and all quickly goes to hell. Cage is able to kill a Mimic moments before he is killed, only to awake back on the military base just as before. After repeating the cycle many times, Cage learns that Vrataski, dubbed the Angel of Verdun, once went through the exact same thing. With her help, Cage will train for combat, and fight the same battle ad infinitum until victory is achieved.

Of course, it’s easiest to say that the film is a shoot ‘em up version of Groundhog Day, but it also draws heavily from other influences. The scenes with Cage and his unit training for battle under the orders of Master Sergeant Farrell evoke memories of similar sequences in Starship Troopers, Full Metal Jacket, and Aliens. The film’s exoskeleton machinery also brings back memories of the fork loader from Aliens, and the casting of Bill Paxton also brings those comparisons. Another key influence on the film is the Omaha Beach sequence of Saving Private Ryan. From its June 6th release date to a last-ditch invasion of a French beach, Edge of Tomorrow has nods to D-Day all over it.

Director Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity) presents most of the film’s action in the prevalent style for modern action films – shaky cam, quick cuts – but also knows when to let a shot linger. The initial drop onto the field of battle is a long shot, Cage flailing and falling, before crashing onto the beach. Liman keeps the film moving with a brisk pace, though the training montages did get to be a bit much. Based upon the graphic novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, the screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth avoid the traps of the genre, keeping the exposition and lessons on alien biology contained to a few quick scenes. But the film is surprising hilarious, featuring many inventive and unexpected ways to kill Tom Cruise.

While Cruise displays his casual charms yet again, it’s Emily Blunt who is a revelation. Her character is one the best female badasses to appear in a blockbuster in sometime. She’s neither frail or emotional, nor so calloused that she’s impervious to pain. Banners that appear everywhere refer to her as “Full Metal Bitch,” and the film wisely lets her rebuke that title without a speech but a single gesture. The romance between the two is played very quietly, consisting of modest gestures, but it never feels forced. Their bond is built by the understanding that they’ve each lived the brutality of war on repeat.

Edge of Tomorrow is the greatest video game movie ever, though it’s not based upon a video game. The film plays out like a difficult level of a video game. With his infinite lives, Cage memorizes the moves he must make in order to get further along than any time prior. Then, like hitting buttons to skip the story segments we’ve already memorized, the film jumps ahead to where we left off. Cleverly, the film has Cage lose his power before getting to the climax. Basically, he got to the final level with one life left. If the film paused in the middle and the projectionist had to blow into projector to make it work, I don’t think anybody would’ve found it out of place.

While the film definitely has problems with its final act, the first two-thirds built up enough goodwill to coast to the finish line. The film’s climax brought to mind similar scenes in the lackluster The Matrix Revolutions, and isn’t quite as fun or thrilling as anything to come before it. Even with its modest flaws, Edge of Tomorrow is an entertaining, often humorous sci-fi adventure. For a film that’s premise is repetition, knowing that there are no post-credit stingers, easter eggs, or teases for future installments feels like a tiny revelation.

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