Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Deja whew!: "Edge of Tomorrow"

The pitch: "It's 'Groundhog Day,' but with Tom Cruise saving the world from aliens!"


Yep, that's it. For all the trailers and reviews, you can distill this Cruise sci-fi romp down to that one short sentence. And you know what? It works!

I admit my early reaction to the trailers for "Edge of Tomorrow" was along the lines of "Nice bang-bang, but how is this not 'Oblivion 2: Mediocre Boogaloo?'" But then I simultaneously saw the above-average reviews and learned the director was Doug Liman. That was enough to send me once again to ye olde cineplex.

(Sidebar: I actually said to my dad the other night, "I'm a Doug Liman fan" -- possibly the first recorded instance of such an uttering. Even if he's not lauded by a longshot, this is the guy who not only helmed "Swingers" and "Go" -- the latter much underrated, I maintain -- but also "The Bourne Identity." Other efforts may not have as many stars, but I say "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Jumper" and "Fair Game" all are entertaining in their own ways. So yeah, Dougie has earned the automatic "I'm listening ... " status from me.)

Our story has the world trying to figure out how the beat back an invading alien force that landed in Europe and is spreading outward. Tom Cruise is a military officer/PR guy charging to rallying public opinion -- something totally lost in the trailers, but kind of key to the happenings. When he's ordered to join an assault on France, he refuses -- Tommy don't do combat, this time -- and gets busted down to private and lumped in with the grunts. In over his head, he enters the fray but doesn't last long and dies.

The first time.

Yes, it turns out our hero is caught in some kind of loop where he repeats the same day over and over. And good thing, since that day ends quite badly for the assault. This is his chance to make it right, if only this dipsh*t PR guy can figure things out. That includes getting the heroine du jour of the fight, played by Emily Blunt, to go along with him.

I won't lie ... the "Groundhog Day" vibe was all the way up to 11 here. We see Cruise go through the same scenes over and over and over infinity. But unlike our favorite Feb. 2 themed comedy, he's got a purpose, and I was quite curious to see how this would all shake out. Plus there's some comedy here, too. I mean, as much as there can be with the planet facing annihilation.

This is worth noting. Unlike "Oblivion" or "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," we don't have a noble hero searching for the truth. It's more a guy with no clue forced to figure out what the hell is going on. Sure, "Jack Reacher" might have allowed Cruise to have a few quips, but "Edge of Tomorrow" gives him more to work with -- humor and sadness along with action -- and he does well.

It helps to have Blunt as a foil, between her tough demeanor, lithe figure, wide eyes and some dry humor of her own. True, you can't fully ignore the fact that she's two decades Cruise's junior. But she's someone whom I think has been underused in multiple movies, and it's good to see her get a little more meat here.

In all, "Edge" was more thoughtful and intriguing than I expected, and a good balance of action, plot movement and emotion to keep me interested. The ending could have been better and more true to what preceded it, but that didn't come close to ruining the movie. It was much better than "Cats." I'm going to see it again and again ...


At 11:57 AM, Anonymous slumus lordicus said...

The question is: does he pull a Chronicles of Narnia when he grows old and dies?


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