Thursday, June 5, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi action movie with a plot reminiscent of Groundhog Day. In the place of Bill Murray reliving the same day over and over again in order to win the heart of Andie MacDowell, Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise (William Cage) reliving the same two days over and over again in order to save the world from an alien menace. This is not a detraction - Groundhog Day is a great comedy, and Edge of Tomorrow is an excellent action movie, and while the plot premise is certainly familiar, this movie is actually based on a Japanese young adult novel whose title is translated as All You Need is Kill.

Much of the credit for this movie must go to the writer, Christopher McQuarrie. Time travel stories are never easy, and adding purposeful repetition does not help. McQuarrie, though, is the same man responsible for The Usual Suspects, and as in that movie he has made a wonderfully coherent narrative out of a complicated story. The only complaint I have about it is that the coda is a little too Hollywood. Otherwise, the pacing and dialogue are superb, with tense action and timely humor.

I am not a great fan of Cruise, but he is quite good in the lead role. He still (somehow) has the physical presence to be convincing in the action sequences, and he can always play crazy (in this case his character is not crazy, but since everyone thinks he is, it amounts to the same thing).

Emily Blunt plays Rita Vrataski who, unlike Cruise's character, retains her age, nationality, and name from the novel (though the book's main character, Keiji, is called Cage). As explained in the trailers, Rita previously experienced the same kind of time loop as Cage is caught in. Blunt does very well in her portrayal of the tough but damaged Rita. Unfortunately, the weakest part of the plot is the inevitable romantic tension between Cage and Rita. Despite that, she is a really good character.

The rest of the supporting cast is mostly forgettable (though competent in their roles) with the exception of Bill Paxton, who is fantastic as Master Sergeant Farell, the speechifying, cliche-slinging hardass who is nominally in charge of Cage. The book has impressive diversity in its cast, and while the movie does have some in the small speaking parts, it would have been nice to retain a bit in the better parts. For instance, in the book Farell is Brazilian-Japanese, and Rita's mechanic is a Native American woman. The latter role is replaced in the movie by a white male scientist.

While it could have been even better than it is in some ways, Edge of Tomorrow is one of the better sci-fi action films I have seen, not just this year but in general. It is almost in Terminator 2 territory. I am rating it below the two Marvel movies only because they were slightly more fantastic and colorful.

Performance: 4/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Production: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5
Bechdel: Fail
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Pass
What are these?

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. Lone Survivor
5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
6. The Wind Rises
7. The Lego Movie
8. Lust For Love
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel
10. Pompeii
11. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
12. Maleficent
13. I, Frankenstein
14. Monuments Men
15. Knights of Badassdom
16. Divergent
17. Brick Mansions
18. 300: Rise of an Empire
19. Godzilla
20. RoboCop
21. Winter's Tale
22. Transcendence
23. Noah
24. The Legend of Hercules
25. Need For Speed
26. 3 Days to Kill

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