Look at the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow and it won’t exactly make anyone want to line up at a box office window and purchase a ticket Friday (June 6) when it opens.
It’s slow, melodramatic and tonally off and features a moody tune called This Is Not the End by Fieldwork. Truth be told upon, viewing it numerous times, especially in the past couple of weeks as the marketing for Tom Cruise’s latest ramped up considerably, it made me want to flee any press screening for this.
That would have been a mistake for me. It would also be a mistake for fans of good sci-fi action films with plenty of heart and intelligence. It would have proved wiser to just pay attention to who the director is. In this case, that’s Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), a filmmaker who generally knows his way around an action flick.
The qualities he gave to Bourne – quick action, timely humor and an overwhelming sense of tension – come often in this thriller that could have just been another alien invasion movie.
Instead, with a convention that will inevitably draw conclusions to Groundhog Day, he crafts something that at least feels fresh.
Based on the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow takes us to an Earth under siege by alien creatures intent on wiping out humankind (of course) and taking the planet over.
Earth forces, which are united under one military unit, are close to defeat as they plan an insurgence that they believe will turn the war’s tide in their direction. Every man is needed for that job and Gen. Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) elects to choose an American media relations officer – Maj. Cage (Cruise) – along for the trip. He tries everything, including blackmail, to get out of the duty only to find himself busted down to private, untrained and being thrown into the heat of battle where one of the creatures bleeds on him, killing him – not really. The blood of this particular version of the alien possesses the ability to throw the victim into a time loop and Cage finds himself living in his own personal hell living the same day over and over where he meets a decorated soldier named Rita (Emily Blunt).
They soon learn that they share something. Rita once held the power until her superiors in the military messed it up by experimenting on her. Together, they join forces and work their way through to a solution to destroy the creatures.
In that respect, Edge of Tomorrow does have a touch of Groundhog Day and that element of the film generates much of the humor and allows Cruise’s Cage to get to know those around him. But Liman moves wisely not to wallow in that element of the film. He uses it judiciously to propel the story forward and it adds intrigue as well.
But he also directs some spectacular action sequences – aerial and on the ground – that reminds of some elements of classic war films, most notably Saving Private Ryan. That’s a feat unto itself.
Cruise and Blunt possess a noticeable chemistry that doesn’t get in the way of the story and supporting players – especially the always on point Bill Paxton – prove indispensable.
Here’s a tip: ignore the trailer and take a trip to the Edge of Tomorrow.
Movie: Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.
Running time: 113 minutes
George’s rating: 4-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com