The Horror Honeys: Edge of Tomorrow: LIVE. DIE. RUN. RUN. RUN. REPEAT.

Edge of Tomorrow: LIVE. DIE. RUN. RUN. RUN. REPEAT.

A Sci-Fi Honey Review by Katie

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

First things first: let’s address the main problem with big-budget, popcorn-bingeing, 3D-glasses-wearing summer blockbuster movies like Edge of Tomorrow.  It’s right there on the poster.  The problem is TOM CRUISE.  And not just any Tom Cruise; this is a specific type of Cruise.  This is Action Cruise.  If you’ve seen one Tom Cruise action movie you’ve seen them all, and he has a hard time being anything but full Action Cruise regardless of what the script calls for, often with heavy doses of purposeful running.  If you caught my live tweet of 2013’s Oblivion last night, you might’ve gotten a sense of what Action Cruise is all about.  Some people flock to the Cineplex in droves just for Action Cruise, and some avoid him at all costs.  I usually fall into the latter category.

Needless to say, I plopped down in my theatre seat expecting to get a face full of Action Cruise, in all his charming, cocky, running glory.  And I must admit, I’ve never been more pleased by an actor completely defying my less-than-thrilled expectations. 

Nothing can outrun Action Cruise!
Praise Xenu!
Edge of Tomorrow opens with tidy exposition through television news segments that Earth has been invaded by an aggressive alien army, whose motives are not known but hostile intent is clear.  It is here that we are introduced to Major William Cage (Cruise), the buttoned-up toothy grin behind the U.S. military’s media campaign to get young recruits to enlist in combating this seemingly unbeatable enemy.  The mascot and poster-girl for this campaign is Rita (Emily Blunt), nicknamed “Full Metal Bitch” and earning that epithet with every swing of her battlefield machete.  Blunt is amazing, but the whole supporting cast shines as well: the underused Noah Taylor pops up in a small but memorable role, and the absolutely perfect Bill Paxton delivers some of the film’s best moments and lines.  It is Cruise, however, who is the unequivocal surprise and delight: not the self-assured, studly and fight-ready Action Cruise we are used to, but a cowardly, squeamish, and amusingly incompetent soldier.  Groomed as a PR-golden boy and not the war machine his rank makes him out to be, Bill Cage is thrust into terrifying and dizzying skirmishes against the alien enemy, whom he must learn how to defeat with the help of Blunt’s Full Metal Bitch.

I want that to be my nickname too, but I don't look like THIS.
You can’t have an excellent sci-fi movie without excellent creatures, and Edge of Tomorrow’s alien enemy, known in the film as “Mimics”, fulfill that requirement in spades.  Thrashing around with whiplike tentacles, Mimics spring from the soil in a frenzied tornado, crashing toward their victims without giving them a moment to react.  Even in 2-D, the Mimic threat pops off the screen and holds you at the edge of your seat for every well-choreographed battle.  It is through one of these encounters that Cage is exposed to Mimic DNA, and is suddenly able to re-live the same day a countless number of times.  For a plot contrivance typical of the genre, Edge of Tomorrow deals with things like time loops in a remarkably linear, easy-to-follow manner.  In my experience, when your brain doesn’t hurt from trying to tie the loose ends of a time travel plot together, you tend to enjoy the action even more.

I'm sold. Sign me up.

The repeat-a-day trope has been done in movies before, and sure, this one goes through all the Groundhog Day stages our protagonist must navigate: denial, fear, incredulity, grief, anger, and finally, ass-kicking acceptance.  Paxton’s brash Master Sergeant character serves as the personification of the film’s subtextual themes on fate and destiny; while telling Cage that “battle is the great redeemer” and tomorrow he will be “born again,” he may as well be winking directly at the audience.  What the film does right with this plot device is revealing mid-scene whether we are in a moment that is being experienced for the first time, or rather surprisingly, the seventh, eighth, or maybe hundredth.  Once it’s revealed that Cage has lived this moment before, the scene has a new element of fun – like winning a fight with your eyes closed -- or poignancy, like knowing that no matter how many times you try, there are some people you just can’t save.

Run Cruise-y, RUN!
Based on the manga and novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow has no less than three writers that took it from page to screen, but don’t hold that against it – one of the writers is The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie.  I haven’t read the book, so whatever sins the film committed by drastically changing a beloved character or storyline, I was blissfully unaware.  Judging the film on it’s own merits as a standalone product of the summer movie season, it’s the most fun I’ve had in theatres so far this year, dwarfing even Godzilla in its Mimic-magnitude.

Sci-Fi Honey Rating and disclaimer: for some reason, I’m hesitant to ascribe a perfect score to anything, but dammit, I can’t really find something to fault this film on.  I’m going to bite the bullet and give it five Action Cruises out of five.