Live. Die. Repeat. Sounds like a terrible life.
Unless you’re Tom Cruise.
After last year’s very “meh” premiere of Oblivion, in which Tom Cruise runs around with future guns and stares very intently at things, the announcement of Edge of Tomorrow (whose trailer shows Tom Cruise running around with future guns and staring very intently at things) had most people underwhelmed.
How very wrong we were.
Tomboy plays Major Cage, in a perfect rewrite of a Tom Cruise role. Cage is a PR boy. He’s a marketing monkey, a Don Draper who never actually fought in any war. And his whole job is to sell the American people on fighting a war against an alien race that crash landed in Germany and has now taken over the entire continent of Europe.
Why you need to convince the American people to fight against an alien race bent on extinction is beyond me (Especially if each soldier gets a mech-suit tricked out with rockets and machine guns). But Cage is a coward, he looks good on screen, but he’s never shot a gun before.
Through a wacky turn of events, General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) labels Cage a deserter and puts him on the front lines with a bunch of soldiers who hate him and actively tell him how horribly he is going to die. They were right. Cage dies after exploding an alien with a claymore and acid blood melts his face off.
And all of a sudden he wakes up again, the day before the invasion. The explanation is that this is some alien power that the “Mimics” use to reset time and conquer Earth whenever something doesn’t go their way.
And here’s where the fun begins. The beginning action sequence is a futuristic Saving Private Ryan. Thrilling, heart-pounding, frenetic fast-paced action. Cage’s airship blows up in mid-air, he watches everyone he recently met die. And then he does it again. Each time dying in a different way. Discovering new things about the battlefield, and slowly becoming more badass each time. Or, becoming more like Tom Cruise each time.
And boy, is it hilarious. Somehow Edge of Tomorrow made death funny. Few films can do this, especially intentionally, but this one pulled it off. Hearing Tom Cruise give his own Wilhem Scream after getting run over by a truck and wake up back at the starting point screaming like a kid who forgot to study for the big test is worthy of a few guffaws.
Eventually he finds an ally who believes in him. Rita (Emily Blunt) is the world’s most badass soldier and the only one who understands what Cage is going through. Each day he must find her and figure out how to win. And she unapologetically shoots him in the head when he’s too injured to go on.
But for the film’s comic leanings (memorizing lines, predictive actions, getting killed just to restart etc.) we get a lot less of the emotional damage or frustration. There is a montage of Rita’s deaths that are obviously horrifying for Cage. But the film spends little time on this. A missed opportunity, that was explored a little better in Groundhog Day, this movie’s spiritual predecessor.
Edge of Tomorrow is the perfect video game movie. And one that shows Cruise can still carry a film. People will debate the ending for the rest of the summer (it’s not bad, it’s just a little too clean) but they won’t be disappointed in the rest of the movie. And we all will enjoy Tom Cruise live, die and repeat his way through another action movie in Mission: Impossible 5 next summer.
3 out of 4 stars