Since the first trailer for Edge of Tomorrow debuted, comparisons to Groundhog Day have been tossed about. The premise is a near-future war in which a soldier has to relive the same day over and over. Each day he is thrown into the same doomed battle against a superior alien race, tries to adjust based on his days (weeks, months, years) of experience, dies in countless painful ways, rinses and repeats. So the formula really is Groundhog Day but with giant mech suits. And it works magnificently.
This movie is fun. Previews had led me to believe that it was going to be a cool action movie with a neat sci-fi twist, and I tend to love Tom Cruise’s sci-fi movies like Oblivion and Minority Report. What I didn’t expect was for the movie to be so funny and light. Don’t get me wrong: the action is fantastic and the battle scenes look amazing. Much of the fighting takes place on a beach in France and it’s obvious that the filmmakers were trying to evoke the battle of Normandy. The planned invasion turns out to be a slaughter over and over and over. The aliens are fierce and fast, and the humans in the mech suits give us a look at the likely future of our real-life soldiers. But the movie is not an action movie at it’s heart. It’s more about being clever. This may seem a bit like a stretch, but watching the movie feels more like watching something like Ocean’s Eleven rather than Spaceship Troopers. It’s about the payoff, the “how is he going to get through this?”, the tweaks the character makes each day to get a little bit further.
Tom Cruise does a great job as the lead. Cruise can tend to be polarizing as an actor (I generally fall in the “I like him” camp). Critics will argue that a lot of his characters just feel like Tom Cruise. In Edge of Tomorrow, he plays Major Cage of the United Defense Force (or something like that). The man is an officer by chance, not a soldier, and for a good chunk of the movie, he is just a coward trying to get by. It’s a fun role and Cruise does a good job of balancing the reluctant hero becoming the hyper-skilled expert. Emily Blunt is also great as a super-soldier that has previously gone through the same experience as Major Cage. She is a focused and ruthless soldier who is helping Cage turn the tide of the war, but she’s also quick to make sure he dies each day so that he can “reset.” The relationship between the two can feel a little forced at times, but perhaps that is unavoidable since Cage is working with this woman day after same day after same day for who knows how long, while she is technically meeting him for the first time each day. The trouble with time-bendy stories, I guess.
Aside from a handful of cliched secondary characters, the movie is incredibly successful overall. The pacing is nearly perfect and keeps you engaged until the very end. Even though we’re seeing the same day over and over, the story always feels fresh and each day picks up at just the right point. Some viewers may be left puzzled by the way things wrap up at the end, but the movie as a whole really leaves a good impression. It’s fun, funny, intense, and occasionally touching. I definitely recommend seeing it when it hits theaters.