In the not-too-distant future, a series of meteorites hit Earth. That would be irritating enough if it wasn’t for the fact that the meteorites had also been carrying a horde of nasty aliens. Humanity finds itself on the losing side of a war to protect its planet. With continental Europe wrapped in the sharp tentacles of the Mimics, the NATO-led United Defense Force under the command of General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) is poised to make landfall in France as a part of Operation Downfall in a valiant effort to more forcefully turn the tide of the war. That’s how Edge of Tomorrow begins.
To pick up the plot thread that I dangled in the introduction, let’s further set the scene: Heartened by their recent victory at Verdun where Sergeant Rita Vrtaski (Emily Blunt) single-handedly slew hundreds of Mimics, they are hopeful about the outcome of the planned invasion. After all, they now had an army of soldiers wearing exo-suits. The PR machine spear-headed by Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) claims that there’s victory in sight. That’s why General Bringham wants Major Cage to be embedded with the front line as they take to the beach, an offer Cage firmly declines. Unfortunately, that’s an offer Cage couldn’t refuse and only he is surprised to awaken on the base in handcuffs.
I’m not going to lie that a not-insignificant part of me was really looking forward to this movie to watch Tom Cruise die in a variety of creative ways. See, the trailers promised a movie that looked like Groundhog Day set amid an alien invasion. The movie isn’t far off from that idea. They’re both about reprehensible men who have to repeat the day over and over again until they get it right. They both go through a lot of personal growth throughout the film.
Initially, all Cage can think about is trying to get out of his situation and somehow survive. With each death, he’s thrown back into the thick of things. At least he comes into contact with people who understand what he’s going through. Rita herself had gone through a similar situation and the stoic soldier becomes his trainer and mentor. She’s wonderfully no-nonsense and completely at ease with killing Cage in order to reset the day.
It was fun seeing Cage grow from his cowardly self to a heroic figure hell-bent on stopping the alien horde. I hope I’m not giving away too much there, but you could probably figure that out from the trailers. It’s also fun to see him getting to know the troop he’s assigned to, caring about them each as individuals and trying on multiple occasions to save their lives. Much as I have issues with Cruise and his particular brand of Scientology-fed crazy, I have to give him credit as an actor for pulling the transition off. Speaking of actors, I loved Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farrell, the man in whose hands Cage is put after his unsuccessful meeting with General Brigham.
One of the neat things about the movie is that, while set in the future, it feels like a realistic expansion on existing technology. The exo-suits that the soldiers wear looks just like a weaponized version of power suits that the Japanese are currently working on. The aliens are also a fantastic, freaky foe. Sure, they were definitely CGI, but it was awesome CGI. The film was also nicely paced with great action scenes and the occasional, quieter moment where we got further insight into the characters. That was a nice surprise in this high-octane action movie. The movie itself was also just a nice surprise and worth the trip to the theater.
In a market where movies about dystopian futures seem to be where the money is at, Edge of Tomorrow was just a fun movie. Sure, there was a lot of carnage and an alien invasion leading up to the events in the movie, but while the movie had some emotionally intense and sad moments, they didn’t weigh the movie down. It still felt like a fun film. A lot of film makers have forgotten that science fiction movies don’t have to have a deep message to connect with audiences. They can be fun while not being dumb.
So, let’s talk about Rita. One of the things that struck me about her character was that her role could have been filled by a man. Her gender didn’t really make much of a difference at all. She was a smart, capable soldier who was there to get the job done. She was stoic and didn’t see the need to talk about her feelings or herself. That’s not necessarily something we get to see in movies from female characters. The end of the movie, however, was slightly disappointing as far as her character, but I’m not going to spoil it. If you want to talk more about Rita, drop me a line in private and I’ll be happy to gab.
My final verdict of this movie, if you haven’t guessed, is that I really liked it. Then again, I’m usually an easy sell for sci-fi and alien invasion movies. The fact that it was a good movie on top of being fun was just icing on the cake.