It’s Aliens! No..wait a minute..it’s, it’s Starship Troopers!! Source Code? Or War of The Worlds?!! Is it? Is it?! Oh, who cares, there’s shiny robot stuff, slippery alien nasties, there’s the stunningly gorgeous Emily Blunt playing a full metal badass the likes of which we haven’t seen since Wreck-It Ralph, lots of huge weapons that make a massive amount of ‘fuck you’ noises, sublimely immersive cgi and let’s not forget that there is Tom Cruise himself, of course. Who cares what it’s like. In fact, I think I might just need to pee.
And the setup and pitch for this film are great. A semi-decent (albeit not frighteningly original, Bill Murray and Jake Gyllenhaal can be heard coughing politely at the rear of the room) science-fiction idea dressed to the nines with believably developing characters. Edge of Tomorrow looks excellent, has the acting chops to match the classy visuals and a coherent narrative and often impressively considered script. It even manages to throw in a couple of laughs for good measure too.
No stranger to the role of reluctant hero, Tom Cruise plays the part of Cage, a Major in the Armed Forces, who has never seen a day of battle in his life, which is just the way he likes it. He’s not a coward, mind you (that would be way too unsavoury for the Cruise machine to stand for), he just simply knows what he’s good at and more importantly, what he isn’t. He is the recruiting face of the armed forces, not a grunt designed and trained to become alien fodder.
The film doesn’t muck about with too much exposition, as there is way too much shouty fun stuff to throw at you. You didn’t come here for philosophy lecture I assume, which is just aswell, as you’re not going to get one. Ripping through the back story of how Earth got into this rather sticky situation with these seemingly very annoyed visitors from outer space is on you and off again before you’ve had the time to even get comfy. Not that it really matters, because the plot is no more complicated than a script that seems to have a good handle on its audience’s expectations. Suffice to say, we’re up that creek without that paddle. We’re losing the war and unless someone can somehow come up with a way to defeat the aliens, who seem remarkably efficient, then all is lost.
Good job we have Tom then, eh?
Through one thing or another (mostly the machinations of Brendan Gleeson’s General Brigham) Cage finds himself exactly where he doesn’t want to be; on the ground at the front line. Without any kind of training or even the knowledge about how to turn the safety off on his machine gun, as you might expect, the outlook for Cage cannot be described as looking rosy. The opposite is true.
Well, he dies, of course. (not a spoiler, no letters please) In fact, he doesn’t survive for more than a couple of minutes. In a remarkable moment of good fortune (if dying horribly in a huge explosion of alien guts can ever be described as such) Cage is somehow implanted with the ability to go back in time, to the same point on each occasion. It appears that this is the method by which the aliens seems to appear unbeatable. If they start to look like they’re losing, they just roll back time and have another stab at it until they get it right. Nifty. But now the recently deceased Cage, seemingly blessed with this transference at the point of his death can also play the same trick. All he needs to do now then, is convince everybody else.
And so the majority of the first act is spent regurgitating the plot from Groundhog Day, but for less laughs, as Cage tries and fails over many repeated attempts of the same day to convince those that matter that he is gifted in a way that can enable the good people of Earth to triumph over their marauding, slithery invaders. Once he’s managed that, then it’s time to hatch a plan to save humanity from almost certain obliteration.
Much more satisfying than you would initially have expected given Cruise’s recent choices. Oblivion underwhelmed, but this is back to what Cruise does best; helming massive budgets with as much screen presence and magnetism as he’s ever had. Supported brilliantly by Emily Blunt as Rita, his hard-as-nails mentor and a couple of nice turns in the forms of a gruff Bill Paxton and inscrutable Brendan Gleeson, the performances are rounded and strong, as you would expect from such a formidable main cast.
In all, a very good example of blockbustering movie entertainment that was overdue from Cruise and a marker for Emily Blunt who adds a couple of extra strings to her range here. A loud, exciting, exhilarating good-looking adventure that will ensure your entrance fee has been well spent.