Well I wasn’t expecting that. Picture the exoskeletons from Reboot storming the beaches of Normandy in order to free Europe from the clutches of gigantic, glowing squids. Throw in some time travel, cast Tom Cruise as the tough-luck soldier, and we have an action-packed sci-fi which surprisingly entertained me for the whole 113 minutes. I went in expecting very little and came out with a mental note to start preparing my doomsday survival kit.
Edge of Tomorrow is set more or less on the edge of tomorrow. It’s the near future, and a large asteroid has crash-landed on Earth, releasing swarms of calamari-looking aliens (called Mimics) upon the unsuspecting and unprepared human race. Major Cage (Tom Cruise) guiltlessly hides behind a military desk job, recruiting young soldiers to fight the battles he actively avoids. Cage, the suave, charismatic coward, is about as likely to jump into battle against the Mimics as the Pillsbury Doughboy is to jump aboard the vegan train. But after a couple of ill-chosen words and a poorly-timed smirk in the direction of a humourless general, Cage finds himself waking up as a new recruit on a military base the day before humanity’s last great strike against the aliens. He gets yelled at by his superior, taunted by his bunk-mates, suited up in armour, thrown out of an airplane, and then blown to pieces by his own weapon. Wah wah.
Act II. Cage wakes up. It’s morning and he’s once again on the base with the same superior yelling at him, the same bunk mates heckling him, and the same aircraft stifling him as he prepares to be thrown to his death yet again. No one believes he’s reliving the same horrific day over and over again until he meets Rita (Emily Blunt). Rita understands Cage’s predicament because she has also experienced the same dreadful everyday-is-Monday phenomenon. She makes it her mission to train Cage to survive the battlefield, hunt down the alien mothership, and save all humanity.
What’s clever about this movie is that you never know how many times Cage has lived that one day. Like a video game, he learns where the danger is going to be, dodges it in time, and moves a little bit farther before once again dying and starting the day over again, beginning at the last save spot. Even though it’s the same scenes over and over, the film doesn’t feel repetitive. It’s a clever premise they stole from Groundhog Day, adjusting it with the addition of more aliens and the subtraction of an important moral lesson. Cruise’s frantic character is balanced out by Rita, the hard-ass realist who has no qualms about resetting the day (killing Cage) as soon as something minor slows them down. With Cage’s love of survival and lack of experience in basic combat, his interactions with Rita result in some fabulous comedic moments.
Emily Blunt takes the trophy in the acting department, showing us all how to live up to a name like Blunt. Tom Cruise is more or less Tom Cruise, but with a hilarious touch of absolute incompetence. As for the effects, the aliens are designed to look like something that crawled out of the sea and into my nightmares. The visual design isn’t completely solid, probably because the Mimics move so fast. They flit here and there on screen looking unstable and intangible, sort of like ghosts with stomachs full of glow sticks, or holograms that are less hollow-gram and more solid, multi-tasking, stabbing machines. Again, for peace of mind, I should really double check on my doomsday survival kit.
Edge of Tomorrow checks all the boxes for an action movie: futuristic technology, an ultimate indestructible enemy, and the total demolition of a famous historical monument. With Groundhog Day’s time-turning capabilities and the incomprehensible Independence Day knowledge that destroying the mothership is a one-shot solution, Edge of Tomorrow succeeds in being both relatively predictable and full of surprises. 7/10.