Love him or hate him, you have to grudgingly concede that Tom Cruise still got it. The 51-year old actor not only remains a top draw as Ethan Hunt in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise 25 years after ‘Top Gun’ but starred in slick sci-fi blockbusters such as ‘Minority Report,’ ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘Oblivion.’ His latest offering, the grungy near-future military sci-fi actioner ‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ demonstrated once again that Cruise is in good form, even if the critically acclaimed movie falls short at the box office behind tear-jerkers like ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and family fare like ‘Maleficent.’
Adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s awesomely titled 2004 story ‘All You Need is Kill,’ about a green recruit of the United Defense Force fighting against an alien invasion who dies repeatedly but finds that he has the ability to rewind back to the day before in a time-loop and fight again like a character in a video game, the ‘Groundhog Day’ concept underlying the movie’s premise is certainly not new. But as in the case of Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Source Code,’ ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ somehow managed to put a fresh spin on this well used cliché and pull it off.
Set in the near future, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ possesses the realism and grittiness which bring to mind ‘Battle: Los Angeles,’ but the film’s chaotic, shifting battle scenes and low-angle camerawork have more in common with the opening beach assault scene in ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt complemented each other well as the movie’s two leads, Major William Cage and Sergeant Rita Vrataski (aka ‘Full Metal Bitch'), and the set design and visual effects are all top notch. The minimalist exo-suits worn by Cage, Vrataski and the UDF grunts are near future enough to be believable and resemble the one worn by Matt Damon in 'Elysium.' The multi-tentacled alien ‘Mimics’ are fast and very deadly, drawing a few humorous attempts to characterize them here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/
browbeat/2014/06/06/edge_of_ tomorrow_aliens_mimics_in_tom_ cruise_movie_described_as_ dreadlocks.html.
The first half of director Doug Liman’s (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) movie deals with the war and Cruise’s attempts to grapple with his preposterous situation and is often spiced with dark humor. The recurring scene in which he first sees Rita is also rather memorable, as a sweaty and grease-stained Emily Blunt in a tight tank-top just completed a set of push-ups and arched her back to get up. The second half becomes more of a post-apocalyptic thriller when Cage and Vrataski trek cross-country in their mission to find and destroy the key to the ‘Mimic’ menace. Alas, the only thing that prevented me from giving ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ a perfect grade is the underwhelming Hollywood happy ending.
In the grim darkness of the near future there is only war....