Tom Cruise must’ve had that Risky Business grin from ear to ear when he first read the script for Edge of Tomorrow: He had to know he had a magnificent movie on his hands.
Watching Edge of Tomorrow is like watching James Cameron’s Aliens or J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek for the first time. It provides many surprises, is often scary, has a lot of laughs and always feels original. This is one of those science-fiction movies that truly brings something new to the genre.
In the future, Earth is fighting a crazed, vicious alien force that is shredding armies. Cruise plays Cage, an armed-forces officer who serves as a public-relations man and doesn’t necessarily belong on a battlefield. After a publicity tour, he sits down with a hard-nosed general (a cold Brendan Gleeson)—and finds out that he is going into battle.
Cage is justifiably terrified, and his first taste of war doesn’t go well. While he does score a couple of decent hits, he is killed in an especially gruesome fashion. For reasons I won’t give away, he instantly wakes up after his death, and is transported back to a moment shortly after his meeting with the general.
Cage is in a seriously messed up situation.
He starts repeating the same day, dying every time. Cage does his best to change that outcome, but he always winds up meeting a grisly death and waking up back in the same place. He eventually comes into contact with Rita (Emily Blunt), the military’s poster girl for the perfect soldier. By repeating days with Rita, Cage starts to build himself up as a soldier, discover secrets about the enemy, and increase longevity for himself and mankind.
It’s not usually cool to laugh when somebody dies, but you will laugh at some of the ways in which Cage meets his end. Cruise embraces the comedic elements of the situation, but he and director Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity) keep things away from total silliness. At its core, Edge of Tomorrow is a well-oiled, sometimes-horrific thrill machine that never stalls out or missteps.
Cruise is becoming a major modern-science-fiction force. War of the Worlds, Minority Report, Oblivion and now this movie have established the guy as a sci-fi legend. The same can almost be said for Blunt, who occupied a major role in Looper, another terrific science-fiction film.
Cruise and Blunt are great together. Whether their characters are shooting each other in the head, or getting themselves irreparably bashed up during training sessions, they offer unyielding professionalism and commitment.
Another factor that gives the movie a nice Aliens vibe is the presence of Bill “Game Over!” Paxton as Cage’s ruthless commanding officer. It’s a great role that allows Paxton to take the crazy eyes out of that box in his sock drawer. Remember how edgy Paxton used to be? This movie gives him back some of that edge.
Edge of Tomorrow works on so many levels that I’m going to dare to call it a masterpiece. It’s also one of the year’s funniest movies: It’s not a comedy by definition, but when it gets laughs, it gets big ones.
As for that ending, it might feel a little strange at first, but think about it on the way home. It’s actually quite brilliant.
If you are a Tom Cruise hater, bury that hate. See Edge of Tomorrow—and discover how a blockbuster can be smart, funny, thrilling and totally insane at the same time.
Edge of Tomorrow is playing at theaters across the valley.