Film Review: Edge Of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise is doing a good job of creating his own market for pop corn fodder, throw away action movies that actually have a layer of implausible depth to them. They are never going to be timelessly classics, delving heavily into narrative questioning of the greatest philosophies of man; but it’s hard to argue that his filmography is simple just mindless guns, fighting and money making cynicism.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Cruise gets a hard time purely because his off screen antics taint his on screen reputation. If you spend some time looking through his Curriculum Vitae to date really, it really is littered with a constant flow of simmeringly good films. He knows the genre and style that works for him and he sticks to it. And however much it feels stupidly minoritising to say this, I actually like him as an actor.

Computer Game - Edge Of Tomorrow

It will be no surprise at all then to realise that Edge Of Tomorrow (or Live, Die, Repeat as it appears to have become on DVD release) is simply another action movie in which Cruise takes the lead. But this time, rather than appear “all eyes on me”, you feel that Cruise is just part of a bigger message. That the film is trying to blur the lines between two industrial genres. A movie that is essentially a video game. The whole “restarting” of a level. Of going over and over, learning, improving, repeating laid out clearly before you. And Director Doug Liman, does this brilliantly because to ensure that he has the time and scope to examine this idea and blending with enough scrutiny, he borrows imagery and ideas from other films to create the world into which it’s set.

This leaning to others does mean that as the film starts you feel a little bit cheated. The opening act falls very heavily onto Source Code and Starship Troopers, with the initial battle sequence seemingly a modernised version of Paul Verhoeven’s classic but without Basil Poledouris’s rousing theme. But this sense of facsimile passes as the movie calms down, changing in tone to expectant ambush rather than direct combat. And while the feeling of others drifts into War of the Worlds and even 28 Days Later you really don’t mind because you are totally wrapped up in the sense of lost, stalking emptiness just oozing from the screen.

Starship Troopers - Edge Of Tomorrow

As I’ve said, I really didn’t mind that I could see the individual sources that I was being served up because together they combine to make a good, independent setting for the film. It’s obvious but interesting. It gripped me, it drew me in and it kept me entertained. The movie is just shy of 2 hours long but doesn’t feel it’s length. It’s brought to life in a way that feels constantly in motion, constantly stepping forward with purpose and demand. It never staggers or stops and for a film that repeats, over and over, to never feel monotonous is an achievement in itself.

Praise must go to Tom Cruise, who just looks natural. He’s a bit clean cut and “in the zone” at times. On occasions I felt the personality of his character was beginning to get lost. That he could quite easily drop into any previous film without too much effort. But this is his “genre” and he while he may end up feeling a little too familiar, he knows how to make his characters come to life in a way that feels fitting and right. His performance, while stereotypical, does back up the rest of the film. He doesn’t overpower anything, and at no point did I think he risked bringing “Hollywood A-List” arrogance to the film.

If you praise Cruise, you have to applaud Emily Blunt opposite him with even greater gusto. She absolutely steals the show. There is always a risk that “the pretty young girl” is cast more to add sex appeal than to really play a part. But this cannot be an accusation thrown at Edge of Tomorrow. Blunt’s role is equal if not greater than Cruise’s and her character is likeable, believable and interesting. Cruise feels at time glossy while Blunt never loses that true sense of human matteness. While I believed in Cruise I became lost in Blunt. She was her character and every emotion she felt so did I. In fact, it’s such a powerfully unexpected performance that I really am wondering why the production houses behind the Marvel and DC franchise explosion hasn’t cast her into a major part.

Marvel Comic Characters - Edge Of Tomorrow

I am completely surprised by Edge Of Tomorrow. I was expecting an entertaining but somehow shallow film and instead I got a thoroughly impressive piece of action with a interesting and somehow subtle layer of depth. It may have taken a few minutes to relax into it, but it kept me gripped throughout and I haven’t enjoyed an action film quite as much in a very long time. Yes, it’s not funny, it’s not serious and it’s not really original, but it uses the ingredients it takes to leave you totally fulfilled and cleverly satisfied.

With a lot of franchised regurgitation filling the cinema recently, Edge Of Tomorrow can hold it’s head high, because honestly, this is one action blockbuster I would happily repeat over and over.

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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