2 June 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Out of all of the blockbusters that would be released this summer, the one I was the most cautious about was Edge of Tomorrow. I liked the idea of the time loop battles but things can go wrong. Do it correctly and you get films like Groundhog Day and Source Code, do it wrong and you get The Butterfly Effect. Thankfully though, this is a case where the premise is done correctly and there's a great sense of fun that is present throughout the film, making this set to be one of the best blockbusters of the summer
The plot concerns Major William Cage, a media representative for the military who gets demoted and sent to the front line of a final battle against the Mimics, aliens that, after landing in Germany, have taken over the majority of Europe. During the battle, he gets covered in the blood of a larger Mimic which puts him into a time loop making him repeat the battle over and over again. During these loops he comes into contact with Rita Vrataski, who had previously experienced the same event during a battle at Verdun. Together, they plan to use the time loops to win the battle and exterminate the Mimics. Now this plot is probably the closest a film has ever come to emulating the structure of a videogame with the scenes with the battle feeling like a final level in a game and the whole idea of dying and using what happened to memorise enemy placements being the aspect that most exemplifies this. This also extends to the scenes with Cage training with Vrataski, which feel like when you grind your character to a higher level to allow you to repeat a level later on when you have a better grasp of what you are doing. All of this stuff adds to a great sense of fun that is present throughout the film mixed in with the serious moments, with there being a lot of really funny moments, in particular a lot of the lines said in relation to the time loop and throughout the film, everything related to the time loop works really well. However, the film does face a problem that virtually all time travel films face, that being that when you stop to think about it, it doesn't really add up. The skill of a good time travel film is that you don't think about it whilst you are watching because you are so caught up in the story and, in the case of Edge of Tomorrow, I was.

Another thing that really sells the film is the cast. Tom Cruise is really good as Cage. At the start, he plays Cage like a typical Tom Cruise performance, really cocky, arrogant, egotistical, all of that stuff. As the film goes on though, these aspects are heavily reduced, in accordance to them being reduced in the character, and there is a great sense of pain and guilt that Cruise brings across. Emily Blunt also brings across this aspect as Vranski, due to her experiencing the battle at Verdun hundreds of times but being unable to save any of the people she cared about. As the film goes on, a lighter side to the character starts to emerge as she grows to care about Cage, letting Cage know intimate details about her which she buried inside her in order to reduce her feelings of guilt. What really works though is that Cruise and Blunt have brilliant chemistry with each other, though not a romantic one. This feels like a bond that soldiers who have been through wars together and had gone through a lot of pain would experience and it is a great decision to focus the majority of the film on these two. The supporting actors in the film do a good job as well. Bill Paxton is suitably over-the-top as Sgt Farrell with a lot of really funny moments coming from him and, between this and Agents of SHIELD, it's just great to see Bill Paxton do this type of stuff again. Brendan Gleeson gives a lot of heft to his limited screentime as General Brigham, Noah Taylor is fun to watch as Dr Carter and all of the actors playing the members of J Squad are really entertaining and work really well off of each other.

On a technical level, this is a really well executed film. The big thing the film does well are the battle scenes. Since the same one is repeated over and over again in the film, if it wasn't well directed it would be a slog to watch but Doug Liman puts in a lot of humour and tension in each of the scenes as you wonder how Cage will learn from each battle, with this being helped by Cruise's acting showing that he is learning every detail. The design of the Mimics is really interesting as well, with them reminding me of a more sci-fi inspired version of Sammael from Hellboy. I also love the war propaganda posters with Vranski seen in the background of many parts of the film as it helps to expand the world of the film and shows the cultural impact that the war is having. The special effects meanwhile are done really well and the physical exosuits the characters wear in the battle have this great sense of heft and weight which adds to the battle scenes.

Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a brilliant summer blockbuster. There are a lot of really smart things going on in the script, aided by the excellent performances from Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, but with a sense of fun and excitement that makes the film a blast to watch and keeps you engaged throughout.

My Rating: 4.5/5

1 comment:

  1. I agreed completely with your point about time travel stories only working if you are distracted by the events on the screen. This is a solid movie and better than almost everything else I've seen from this year.