Tom Cruise has been reliving the same situation over and over for a seemingly infinite amount of time, learning from his mistakes, but failing over and over regardless of what he does. The situation in question is his career.
It’s only fitting that Cruise’s role in Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow reflects the path his career has taken in recent years. Since his quasi-comeback of sorts in 2008, he’s drifted from project to project whether it be Knight and Day, Jack Reacher or Oblivion, with hopes that it’ll be the next Mission: Impossible for him. And after each respective film underperforms, he reboots and starts again. But his incessant trial and error has finally paid off with Edge of Tomorrow, a well-made and fun sci-fi flick that transcends the cliches it’s compiled from.
Cruise stars as Major William Cage, who acts as a U.S. Army Spokesman more than an Officer, and against his will is thrust into the front lines of a war against an Alien race known as “Mimics.” Outfitted with only a battlesuit exoskeleton, the combat fearing Cage is launched with a bunch of other soldiers to the beaches of Northwestern France as part of a final offensive against the Mimics (Whether Liman planned the release of the film to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of D-Day is still up for debate). However, the Mimics surprise the humans by attacking first, and rather predictably Cage is one of the many casualties, getting killed along with a Mimic he was up against.
Then *SMASH CUT*. Cage wakes up in the same location and situation he was in the day before he went to battle. Everything plays out exactly the way he first experienced it, including the invasion and his eventual death, but in a different way than the first time. Then *SMASH CUT*. He’s back again. Cage eventually figures out from war hero Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) that he’s inherited the Mimics’ ability to revive themselves after death, and Rita would know: She had the same power once upon a time. With her help, Cage is transformed from an unwilling, disgraced soldier, to the best weapon the humans have against the Mimics, and possibly the only hope of victory for them.
At this point, everyone has made the comparison between this and Groundhog Day or any other film where time loops play a major role in the plot. And yeah, one wouldn’t be far off if they nicknamed this movie “Groundhog Independence Day” or something. But I like to refer to it as something else: “Epic Groundhog Day.” Time loops are a concept that while not entirely original, filmmakers always come up with new ways to incorporate them into the story. Whereas the stakes are usually focused around one person (usually the one experiencing the loop), this time the fate of the entire planet is in Cage’s hands. It gives the film a grand feeling. In addition, we get a legitimate reason as to why Cage is looping, as well as having it factor into the story and character.
Cruise handles the burden of being the unwilling holder of this power with remarkable grace, delivering his most likable performance in a long time. He’s neither a glum, emotionless soldier or an over the top caricature, and his character is surprisingly relatable. He is helped a lot by the script though, which balances being clever and funny at the same time, delivering perfectly timed bits of dry humor into what could have been a very somber film. Blunt, no stranger to strong female characters in smart Sci-Fi films (Looper) also does great, with her taking on the role of the grizzled combat hardened veteran. The gender swapping of the usually experienced and unexperienced characters provides a refreshing change of pace from what movies of this kind generally consist of.
The only place the film loses some steam is the ending, which feels like a copout after everything we’ve seen. The final set piece moment could have been epic if everything wasn’t darker than the inside of a cave, and the resolution is kind of rushed and leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and not in the “open for interpretation” way. Thankfully, it doesn’t completely kill the film, and we’re still left with a movie that turned out a lot better than probably anyone thought it would. It proves that old concepts can still be given fresh twists, and that former “biggest stars on the planet” don’t go down without a fight. It’s good to have you back, Mr. Cruise. Hopefully, there won’t be another time where you have to reboot everything.