Jun 22, 2015

[Movies] Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise movies always leave me feeling a little weird. He's a rather distinct actor who is quite memorable for many different reasons. And whether you're totally into him being all weird during random television interviews or how all of his characters seem to be required to have the same level of intensity, ultimately there's a reason for everyone to be entertained. Plus even I have to admit that he looks really good for his age.

We didn't get to catch Edge of Tomorrow in theaters for a number of reasons and so we had to content ourselves with the home video release. And while it did promise to be a pretty interesting science fiction romp, our schedules at the time were unable to free themselves up to make space for this movie. I guess it's all about priorities and all that jazz.

But them movie in itself was not as bad as I had feared or was it quite as good as hoped. This doesn't make it a bad movie at all - it just didn't quite live up to the hype for me. Then again, what movie ever does, right?

Synopsis: Edge of Tomorrow is a 2014 science fiction action movie directed by Doug Liman. The screenplay was written by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

At the center of our story is Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) a public affairs officer and former advertising executive , who finds himself on the frontlines of the war against the Mimics, a race of aliens that have conquered most of continental Europe. He was initially asked to provide access to cover the invasion as a journalist of sorts, but he refused and was instead tagged a deserter. Thus we watch him try to survive those scant moments on the beach as all hell breaks loose.

But the Cage wakes up once again in handcuffs waiting to be deployed to the front lines. For some unknown reason, Cage is back in the "past" relative to his death and finds himself reliving the whole experience once more. He has the ability to change how he responds to things and this leads to new outcomes but ultimately with his death. The only point of interest is how he tends to encounter Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) on the beach and he is sometimes able to save her before dying himself. With enough time he finally learns enough about the experience on the beach to survive long enough to save her, only to have her tell him to find her when he wakes up just before both die. Somehow this ability to reset the day holds the key to saving all of humanity - provided Cage can figure things out in time.

A lot of the movie relies on that first beach scene, which is sort of similar to what Groundhog Day once did. In that older movie, they used the sequence of events of the day to setup the overall pattern and thus the movie celebrates the deviations. In this case, the beach scene is so over the top that each iteration is like a top-rated action movie on its own. Groundhog Day was all about a mundane routine repeating in a loop. This movie is all action and all big moments and yet trying to figure out the little details in-between the lines.

I enjoyed watching Tom Cruise die, let me say that much up front. The filmmakers came up with some pretty creative ways for him to ultimately perish. But I also liked how the whole cycle of repetition gave Cruise's character more and more chances to become a better soldier and pretty much become totally kickass on that beach. And that's really the defining moment of the first act of the movie - getting Cage to be a decent enough soldier despite his lack of combat experience.

The middle act gets a little muddy as we start to bring in the pseudo science related to the aliens and their time-manipulation powers that pretty much gives this movie its premise. I generally get what was going on for the most part, but I can see how things could get a little confusing. Plus at this point Cage's deaths become more of a joke (which worked, really) but it also disrupts the narrative and makes it a little harder to keep pace of things.

The finale of the third act was decent enough but at times a little contrived. It had that feeling of needing to rush to the resolution since the movie was running long enough and thus not quite as smooth and well-developed as I would have liked. It was still generally logical, but of course it could have been better.

I would have loved to see more iterations of certain variations of their plan away from the beach scene. As the movie moves forward, there was a tendency to show new scenes but then establish that Cage had gone through all this a number of times before away from the view of the camera. I understand that the movie would have been twice had they shown the outcome of event single attempt to get there, but then I also felt there were iterations that we probably didn't need to see quite as much, such as a number of the training sequences in the middle. We could have just had a montage of just Cage's deaths to illustrate a lot of time was passing.

On the whole, Edge of Tomorrow is pretty entertaining and a good popcorn flick. I have to admit that some of the pseudo science back story actually became a bit of a burden to the plot but otherwise it was still a lot of fun.Thus the movie gets a good 4 garish scenes of William Cage dying out of a possible 5.

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