‘Edge of Tomorrow’ – Tom Cruise in a cool science fiction thriller

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

You hear that Tom Cruise is starring in a movie called “Edge of Tomorrow” and two things  go through your head. Couldn’t they find a better title than one that sounds like an old afternoon soap from the ‘60s?

And this time-loop concept…didn’t Bill Murray do it about as well as it ever could be done in “Groundhog Day?” And wasn’t it done about as routinely as possible in “Source Code?”

Yes, Yes . And yes.

But it makes no difference.  “Edge of Tomorrow” is one of the coolest sci fi/action thrillers to come along in quite a while.

The set-up is a tale as old as time. Or at least as old as “War of the Worlds.”

Some nasty alien thingies want to take over Earth, and human beings are considered just so much collateral damage. Resembling a cross between a squid, a scribble and a tumbleweed, said thingies are called Mimics. (A nod, perhaps, to Guillermo del Toro’s 1997 sci-fi film of that name?)

The entire planet is pulling together to stop them. As Chinese and Russian troops march east, American and British troops nuster up for a D-Day-like assault on the bachhead held by the enemy. One of tour side’s leaders is Rita (Emily Blunt), known variously as the Angel of Verdunne and the  Full Metal Bitch.

Whlle she’s stomping alien ass, Major Bill Cage (Crusie), crisp as a newly-minted recruitment poster, is selling earthlings on joinng up (his former job was in P.R.)

Imagine his surprise when a lumpy Old School General (lumpy Old School Brendan Gleeon) tells him he’sabout walk the walk instead of talk the talk.  Cageis as incredulous as a Miss America Contestant actually asked to bring about world peace. But sassing Old School military types isn’t always a good idea. Cage is frog-marched out of Gleeson’s office and ends up in the staging camp for the imminent assault. It apparently doesn’t matter to ayone that he neither knows how to work his high-tech suit or fire his high-tech weapons. He’s cannon fodder. His demise is less aquestion of if than when.

And sure enogh, he’s barely topped the first hill when he’s wipedout by what  he later learns is some Alpha version of a Mimic. (Bigger, badder, bluer)

But as philosophers and Buddhists like to say, an end is only a begiining.

Dead one day, Cage wakes up the next to find he’s repeating the ame time loop that led to his demise. Sorta like Murray waking up evey morning to Sonny and Cher, then bumping into that  obnoxious insurance guy he once went toschool with.

This happens over and over and over until one time, Cage s lucky enough to hear the Full Metal Bitch tell him to find her when he wakes up.

And now it’s a whole new ball of wax, as FMB explains to Cage, what’s going on and how his particular predicament could mean Goodbye Miimics.

Instead of becoming repetitive (as it plot indicates), the movie gains depth and texture, thanks to the clever scrpt, Dougl Liman’s canny direction and the coolly assured performances by the cast.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of “Edge of Tomorrow” — and it is troubing —is how much it owes to  computer-game morality.  Cruise gets snuffed and the screen might as well flash “Game Over.” Then, I don’t know, he goes for a sandwich or checks his email and returns to his seat, ready to run the gauntlet all over again. This makes for some nifty throwaways  — at one point, Cruise is hoisting apint at a British pub and his fellow barflies ask him something about the Mimics heading for London. Cruise replies almost casually “I don’t know.  I’ve neve gotten his far before.”

The lapses in logic are as numerous as the stars in the sky.  But somehow it doesn’t matter. Not only has Cruise and company delivered the first great action movie of the summer, they’ve tossed in a bit of philosophy, too. To wit:  “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

2 replies
  1. OldPanther says:

    Eleanor, it is so unusual for you to get your television history mixed-up. I know you are too young to have experienced to soap opera except in someone else’s writing. The reference you make is a mixture of actually two programs, “Search for Tomorrow” and “The Edge of Night.” I will hold you responsible since both were history making programs. Search was the longest running program series and Edge was the first thirty minute Soap.
    Wesley KerseyReport

    Reply
  2. CynthiaGentry says:

    OldPanther Actually, she does not say that “Edge of Tomorrow” WAS an old soap opera. She said it SOUNDS like it is the name of an old soap opera. And, it does! It sounds almost like two names.Report

    Reply

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