Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) ****

A few months ago, I watched another sci-fi movie starring Tom Cruise where he helps save the earth from aliens. That movie was 2013's "Oblivion," and at the time, I totally had it confused with “Edge of Tomorrow.” As it happens, both movies are excellent, and Cruise is excellent in both. In fact, I have really come to appreciate Cruise as a solid actor who is at his best doing fast-paced action. He really classes up any project he appears in.

In “Edge of Tomorrow,” Cruise plays Major Cage, a military public relations guy with no real soldiering experience. Earth is in the midst of an alien invasion, and Cage is a spokesperson, appearing on the news to laud the heroic soldiers fighting the beasts, and to drum up new volunteers. Cage balks, though, when he is ordered to actually accompany troops on a second Normandy invasion to retake France from the aliens. He winds up on the front lines anyway, in the midst of a bloody battle, and he gets killed. At the moment of his death, though, he wakes up again the previous day, and finds himself re-living all the events leading up to his presence on that battlefield. He gets killed again, and the cycle repeats, over and over. Why this is happening to him, and what he does to deal with the situation, well, that's all part of the fun!

And this movie is fun! It's so nice to see an action movie that doesn't make me loathe myself for watching. Tom Cruise really commits to this role of a cowardly pretty-boy who has to man up, and he is blessed with a tight supporting cast. Emily Blunt is impressively badass as a fellow soldier who helps Cage. Bill Paxton hams it up in a small role as a field sergeant. Kudos also go to the screenwriters for a well-crafted story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

It would be easy to glibly describe “Edge of Tomorrow” as a sci-fi “Groundhog Day,” but this movie is something completely different. “Groundhog Day” was all about Bill Murray's character learning to accept his situation and to be at peace with his endlessly-repeating day. “Edge of Tomorrow” is constantly moving the action forward. As Cage relives his day, he is constantly changing his strategy as he unlocks different aspects of the situation. In some ways, the story is like a video game, where you keep starting over at the beginning every time your character gets killed, and you get further along each time. “Edge of Tomorrow” doesn't have any of the lameness of a video game movie though. This is a tightly-crafted, well-paced story that won't make you groan with exasperation. It's true that the time travel aspects don't make any more sense than they do in any time-travel movie. Once you suspend your disbelief for the basic premise, though, the characters' actions make sense. “Edge of Tomorrow” isn't going to change your view of the universe, or anything. It's just good, solid action entertainment. Watch it yesterday!

4 stars out of 5

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