dir: Doug Liman
Who doesn't want to see Tom Cruise die violent deaths again and again and again? I defy anyone to say otherwise.
Well, this movie seems to have been constructed to serve the interests of both groups of Tom Cruise aficionados: those who actually like him (and what a strange bunch of people they must be), and the far more numerous group of people who behold him and his actions with contempt and fear. As the most prominent member of that church-level scam/cult Scientology, and for his many bizarre actions, he has rightly earned himself a special place in our hearts.
It's so special, in fact, that the prospect of watching him die numerous times becomes an enticement rather than an obstacle.
The premise, taken from a delightfully-titled Japanese manga called All You Need is Kill!, which I wish they'd kept as the title, has been seen in a number of formats and places since Groundhog Day, but that's the one everyone keeps bringing up, as if it's not a lazy grab. Saying "It's Groundhog Day with mech suits and aliens!" isn't creative, inventive or funny, it's just an example of how the path of least resistance to an easy idea is a testament to the fact that you shouldn't be bothering, at all.
Edge of Tomorrow is part of that genre, not so much of the very Buddhist idea of reliving life until you achieve nirvana by banging Andie Macdowell, more of the science fiction-y type you'd remember from such films as Source Code, and... a few other things. A person, in this case Major William Cage (Cruise), gets to relive the worst day of his life again and again and again. Each day for him 'ends' with death, at which point he wakes up in exactly the same circumstances each time.
Europe has been attacked by aliens these shmucks are calling Mimics, and though they had one singular victory at Verdun, there's some Normandy-like invasion planned for the 'next' day that will see everyone die and, more importantly, Cruise die countless times.
You're either a fan of this stuff or not. If the repetition of scenes bugs you, it will drive you insane here. The genre depends on playing one whole 'day' for us out, and from then on it can take short cuts, editing and otherwise, to speed things along. We can watch Cage die multiple times in the same scenario, realising that it means he's died, relived everything the same up to that point only to die a little further along, or even a little earlier.
I cut this flick a lot of slack, for surprising reasons, or at least reasons that are surprising to me. For some reason watching Cruise beg, threaten, do any number of things to weasel his way out of being in the first wave of the invasion really made me laugh, because he's so desperate, and I can't recall the last time Cruise played someone so powerless over his own fate.
At least initially. The point is, and it's made explicit, is that of anyone on the planet, about the only person who has power over some aspects of their fate, and the fate of the entire world, in fact, is Cage. Because he can retain his memories each time, you would think, like someone playing a punishingly difficult computer game like Dark Souls or its sequel, he will eventually find the perfect way to either stop the invasion or beat the enemy. You'd think so, but the story / budget has other ideas, giving us a million variations on how awesome Cruise thinks the magic armour of Scientology makes him.
As for the reason for the time loops, look, I understood the reasons the film gives for it happening, but it's pure bunk, purest bunkum that doesn't even have the decency to insult our intelligence. It might as well have been magic.
Cruise asks Noah Taylor, who plays a scientist: "How is this happening to me?"
Noah Taylor: "A wizard did it."
It doesn't matter, though, or at least it doesn't have to matter. What matters is that it happens, and that it's happened before, and likely will happen again until it's no longer convenient for it to occur. Along with Cruise, and Taylor, there is one other leg this flick props itself up on, and it's the cool, brutal demeanour of Emily Blunt, playing Rita Vrataski, the Angel of Verdun.
As disturbed as I am to see how gaunt she is in this, seeing her encased in mech armour, wielding a ginormous chopper of a sword like some vengeful high tech reincarnation of Joan of Arc on all these posters and on London buses as a propaganda mascot was pretty neat. It's also funny/weird that she has a nickname in the story as the Full Metal Bitch, but whenever someone sees her, and says "Hey, that's the Full Metal..." they always get interrupted before they can say the last part of the nickname. Why they would want to spare our or her tender sensibilities is beyond me. It's a mystery for a flick where wanton destruction is so very wanton.
Along with the aliens killing Cage countless times, we also get the very enjoyable spectacle of watching her execute Cage over and over again, for the most casual of reasons, and presumably just for whenever he irritates her. You can imagine that not shooting him would eventually become harder than shooting him.
In keeping with almost every other alien invasion / science fiction action flick that has come out, the entire shebang, the entire plot solution rests on finding one alien or one machine and destroying that which somehow will make everything okay. I think it's either just because it's easier that way for screenwriters (more than likely), or it could rest on the Great Man Theory of History. I know this is sci-fi, but plenty of the imagery, and the setting of the fields of France, which have seen millions of pointless deaths in many wars, recalls World Wars I & II. For a long while the idea has floated about that if you could just nip Hitler or Mao or Stalin or Napoleon or L. Ron Hubbard or Tony Abbot in the bud, maybe so much horror would have been averted.
The issue I have with it is that you'd have to think that advanced alien intellects / civilisations would have perhaps imagined the possibility of redundancy built into their systems by now, so that they can operate independently of one central point/machine/entity. And if they haven't figured it out yet, perhaps they'll get the idea from watching countless of our Earth movies where Cruise and his ilk get to win so easily in the explosive finale.
In fact, I feel like I've watched this flick before, even though this is the first time I've seen it. Is it because I saw Cruise in another flick last year where versions of him die, and he's fighting an alien invasion, and the solution to all Earth's problems is one big boom in the right place at the right time? It might have been called Oblivion, but I could be wrong (no, I can't).
Or could it be because they’re all the same, or could it be that I’m reliving the same days and nights over and over again? There are some days where it feels like it’s the exact same day as before, especially when trudging up the escalators at Southern Cross Station, saying ‘trudge, trudge,trudge’ as I do so. What I would give to just have alien Mimics attack the station, or kill Tom Cruise in front of me, just for something different…
It’s all in how it moves, and this moves around swiftly. Cruise is effective in the role, possibly, being the great blank psychopathic slate that he is. He's perfectly suited to the role. There doesn't need to be motivation, or back story, or character arcs here, because the only thing that matters is learning how to kill the Mimics as best he can, and, oh, perhaps stopping the death of the Angel of Verdun, who he seems to have developed a certain amount of affection for.
For most of it, their rapport is fine, and they work well together. Their relationship is functional, thankfully, since it's meant to all be about being the best soldiers they can be, but the problem becomes, as Rita first mentions, and then we see happen to Cage as well, it becomes pretty confronting to watch the same person dying over and over again. Of course it's one sided in that respect, since Rita doesn't remember him after every reset, and only he is building up a store of knowledge about her (and everyone else around them), and so it becomes just as important for him, at certain stages (leading to cataclysmic results, again and again), to try to do two impossible things instead of only one: keep her alive and win the war. Of course it becomes obvious, in a sort of a puzzle-like fashion, like the one about getting a fox, a sheep and a sack of cabbages across a river when you can only fit two of them in a boat, that the two objectives might not be compatible.
If I have any substantial complaint it's that after the climax at the Louvre, of all places, proving that the Mimics really do appreciate good art, the ending is way too easy, too simple, too crowdpleasingly meaningless, and even less sensible, given the explanation for how time was being reset in the first place, since it now has no reason for continuing. But who cares. Tom Cruise is happy, and that's all that apparently matters in his frightening world.
I was entertained, and it looked okay. That's all I ask from my Scientology tracts masquerading as mass consumption entertainments. All Hail Dictator Xenu, Great Leader of the Galactic Confederacy! Let's hope Tom Cruise destroys you too one day.
7 times Emily Blunt keeps getting work in almost any flick that comes out, but the poor thing still can't afford to feed herself properly out of 10
"What I am about to tell you sounds crazy. But you have to listen to me. Your very lives depend on it. You see, this isn't the first time." - yeah I tried that in court once, and it didn't go so swell for me - Edge of Tomorrow