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Saturday, June 7, 2014

(Jesse's Take) Edge of Tomorrow 2014 * * * 1/2 Stars

Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Tom Cruise's character dies a lot in his newest science fiction endeavor, Edge of Tomorrow. In fact, about halfway through this 2014 release, I started to lose count (let's just say that it's anywhere between 50-60 times). Regardless, "Tomorrow" is intelligent, sophisticated film making and it stakes its claim as the best thing to hit theaters this year. It makes you think (but not too incredibly hard), it heightens your senses (just like a summer blockbuster should), and it reminds you the audience, why Cruise became a movie star in the first place.

Now as I've just mentioned, there is a Groundhog Day element in which someone relives the same 24 hour period over and over again. This radical tactic brought to life in a non-comedic fashion by director Doug Liman, works diligently until it somehow becomes a little repetitive and overwrought in the 3rd act. Regardless, in the director's chair Liman does a bravado job and that is evident by "Tomorrow's" ingenious plotting and capable editing (there might be a scene or two left out as a puzzle piece but I'll let it slide). In terms of staging action, Liman takes a page out of Alfonso Cauron's playbook (the guy who shot Gravity and Children of Men). He films some of the most stupendous combat scenes you'll ever see. He works with a large canvas consisting of thousands of extras (futuristic soldiers) and the chaotic bullet-ridden sequences featured, seem incredibly complex with a host of neat panoramic views.

Reminiscent of James Cameron's Aliens, featuring slinky, terrifying creatures that seem to be lifted from the Matrix movies, and containing the omission of opening title credits (I'm a huge fan of this), Edge of Tomorrow follows the back story free tribulations of one William Cage. He's a Major but his expertise is strictly in advertising. He's never fired a gun, never killed any type of extraterrestrial, but here he is ordered by an unreasonable General (General Brigham played by Brendan Gleeson in a standard Brendan Gleeson role) to go to Europe and fight a war against evil caricatures called Mimics (think mechanical zombies who hightail it fast and furious). Here's the kicker: every time Cruise's Cage gets killed in battle, he wakes up and finds himself in the same spot he was in when he first came to the army camp (for basic training). He's getting a do-over or a chance to fight again and again until the alien invasion has been conquered by humans. Over the course of the first initial deaths, Cage encounters a fellow soldier who had a similar experience. Emily Blunt is said soldier and she plays Special Forces killer Rita Vrataski. Tom Cruise and Blunt work well together as actors. Their relationship is strictly business as their characters both die again intentionally to try to reset the game plan and strategize their war tactics efficiently.

The performances in "Tomorrow" are mostly disciplined. There is a dose of mild humor but it doesn't register as much as other critics have noted. The Cruise character is initially seen as cowardly but unintentionally becomes a soldier transformed. The film seems like a personal journey for him and you feel the most sympathy for his plight. As for the other members of the cast, they aren't as likable. They actually seem aloof and off-putting (especially the combat fighters in Cage's battalion). Same goes for Emily Blunt. She has good intentions, excels as a sword wielding warrior, but comes off as very reserved. Her Rita Vrataski is distant and borderline unfriendly. Cruise's Cage starts to feel something for her, a sort of mulled over connection if you will. You as the viewer however, will be pain staked at trying to figure out why.

Anyway, the tag line for this film's poster reads, "LIVE DIE REPEAT." Based on my review and recommendation, I believe that this might be the current career path under which Tom Cruise is headed for in modern day Hollywood. Clearly on a science fiction kick, he bounces back this time after appearing in 2013's unoriginal Oblivion.

Overall, a bogged down final half hour doesn't keep Edge of Tomorrow from possessing the power to entertain. It has a fresh premise and it's its own movie even though residue from other science fiction fare sometimes seeps in. Will you be enticed to see it multiple times? Probably not. The effect if you're not patient, would be the equivalent of what Major Cage goes through time and time again (count me out, I've got other movies to see). But know this: compared to a lot of other summer flicks that have filtered in and out of multiplexes, Edge of Tomorrow teeters much further along the "edge" of greatness.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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