Title: Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Excellence: 4 stars (out of 5)
Summary in a Sentence: Another very solid science fiction offering from Tom Cruise that features not just good action and special effects, but a very serviceable underlying plot, lifelike characters that the viewer will connect with, and a great new take on the "Groundhog Day" style reliving of the same day over and over.
This was one of very few films in the last couple decades that I took the time to go see at the theatre and was not disappointed by one bit.
The basic plot is quite straight forward: Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is forced into what's little more than a suicide mission that is part of an attempt to halt the subjugation of earth by aliens called "Mimics". Killed within minutes, Cage then finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop - forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying over and over. He ultimately joins up with Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski and together they try to use his reliving of the same day to defeat the alien menace.
The cinematography was great and the world well-developed and realistic. This certainly helped with the suspension of disbelief, and the battle scenes were well-paced and appropriately devastating to give the viewer a very real sense of how desperate the human battle against the Mimics is.
The plot was fast-paced and well-conceived. There was even a bit of humour here-and-there, and the performances were, without exception, very well done. Special "props" to Bill Paxton for an unexpected (and very strong) performance as a drill sergeant from Kentucky. I was a bit skeptical about the Emily Blunt character going in, but I thought she was done quite well. That she goes into battle wearing a stength-enhancing combat exoskeleton compensates for one of my usual complaints about the "D&D Warrior Babe" trope (i.e. that women physically aren't as strong as men) and she did a good job of portraying a character who is much more than her exterior hard appearance suggests.
I only really had nits about the film. I wasn't crazy about how the military was portrayed, throwing completely untrained troops into battle, but I suppose this was done to convey just how hard-put humanity is. I also thought that Emily Blunt's character engaging in a very strenuous pre-battle workout was unrealistic since no soldier would exhaust themselves like that on the eve of battle, but I can see why it was done in the context of the film to convey her single-minded devotion to her craft (making war against the Mimics).
Overall, I thought this a fine, fine film. One of the most enjoyable new science fiction film I've experienced since Serenity way back in 2005. Unlike Serenity, it did quite well in the box office, thanks no doubt to a robust marketing effort and the star power of Tom Cruise -- who, it must be said, has only rarely let me down. He is a strange, strange man in his personal life, but he chooses good films and performs well in them.
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