EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 53 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Sci-Fi Action and Violence, Language and brief Suggestive Material

Edge poster

Directed by: Doug Liman

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth

(based on the novel ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton & Brendan Gleeson

EDGE OF TOMORROW is on the same level as OBLIVION, Tom Cruise’s science-fiction movie from last year. Plot elements that are easily recognizable from other work have been incorporated into this story and everything seems haphazardly shoved together in the hopes of making a smart blast of entertainment. I wouldn’t say intelligent or amazing is what the result comes off as, but it is enjoyable as a popcorn-munching blockbuster that’s saddled with quite a lot of problems. Based on a Japanese novel, TOMORROW is a film that’s main issues come with the story. The film is very well-paced but also overly familiar and loaded with silly exposition.

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A race of aliens have invaded most of Europe. At first, it appeared that humanity was doomed, until a new battle suit came along that superpowers soldiers with lots of weapons close at hand and a heavy layer of armor. After a meeting gone wrong, Major William Cage is arrested and forced into combat duty on what should be the final battle to take down the otherworldly menace. After dying a horrible death, Cage awakens to find that he’s back in the previous day and everything repeats itself. Using the knowledge of what’s going to happen to his advantage, Cage trains to become a better soldier and teams up with Sergeant Rita Vrataski (a.k.a. Full Metal Bitch, which is an awesome nickname) in an attempt to take down the aliens with some extreme tactics.

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It’s hardly original to describe EDGE OF TOMORROW as “the GROUNDHOG DAY of Science Fiction” as so many other critics have already labeled it as such. However, the film owes a lot to plenty of other science fiction movies in recent years. The source material (which the movie deviates from in a lot of ways) may have been written before SOURCE CODE (an okay time-loop film starring Jake Gyllenhaal) or ELYSIUM (prominently featuring mechanized super-suits) were released, but one can’t help getting flashbacks that we’ve already seen these kind of tropes brought to the screen in the past few years. The film even hits well-worn clichés that I called in advance (such as a forced romantic kiss near the ending).

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At nearly two hours, EDGE OF TOMORROW is surprisingly well-paced. The storytelling technique of Cruise living the same day over and over supplies workable comedy relief. It’s not necessarily that the viewer is forced to experience the same scenes on repeat (a problem I had with SOURCE CODE), but that we’re shown deviations that Cruise makes as the movie progresses. There’s also a few moments that deliver on surprising the audience in cool ways (dialogue states just how many times these characters have repeated certain scenarios with specific outcomes). There’s plenty of room for smart writing in EDGE OF TOMORROW, but it seems like none of the three credited screenwriters used much of it to their advantage. The reasoning for why this untrained Major is stuck in a time loop is pretty silly when it’s revealed in a 5-minute scene that overloads on exposition. Matters aren’t made much better by the stupid design of the aliens. These are the worst movie monsters I’ve seen in a long while. It seemed as if their were too many cooks in the kitchen on how the Mimics (no specific reason is given why these extraterrestrials are even given that label) look. For a movie with a budget this size, there’s no excuse for the creatures to look as poorly as they do. Those complaining about the Muto in GODZILLA (a film that I enjoyed a lot more than this one) need to take a gander at these tendril-covered dogs with glowing eyes.

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For all the amount of negative I’m piling on EDGE OF TOMORROW, I can say that it was enjoyable to watch in the moment. It’s not going to rock your world. It’s just plain serviceable popcorn entertainment. Serviceable isn’t exactly a quality I’d recommend running out and blowing money on to see in theaters. As convoluted and downright ludicrous as things got, I was still interested in seeing everything play out (even if I had predicted a lot of developments). The ending also takes a cheap cop-out (which dips into a massive plot hole) and I wouldn’t expect anything less in a big summer movie starring Cruise (have you seen the ridiculous conclusion to OBLIVION?). There was yet another opportunity for a creative final scene that would’ve echoed a bleak 70’s sci-fi era feeling, but it was missed completely.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

At multiple points in EDGE OF TOMORROW, Cruise’s character begins to explain his bizarre time-loop circumstances to someone by saying “At first, this is going to sound ridiculous, but the longer I talk, the more rational it’s going to appear.” I felt like replying with something along the lines of “This is ridiculous and the longer it goes on shows that there’s nothing rational about it!” There’s plenty wrong with EDGE OF TOMORROW. It’s a stupid B-movie that somehow got turned into a summer blockbuster with a big name cast. The acting is good enough (Bill Paxton is easily my favorite character). The effects range from great (the environments and super armor) to silly (the design of the aliens). The plot is a total mess, but everything plays out in such a fast pace that I was interested in seeing what would happen next. It’s an alright summer blockbuster, but when there are so many better films currently on the big screen, this one doesn’t come recommended. If you do feel the urge to check it out, then wait to rent it or watch it on cable. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Grade: C+

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