Friday, June 6, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Movie Review

Tom Cruise & Emily Blunt (r) dazzle in Edge of Tomorrow

Practice Makes Perfect

Say what you will about Tom Cruise, Hollywood's biggest name and simultaneously its most convenient pincushion... Mr. "Top Gun" can still save a summer blockbuster season all by himself. Cruise is back at it again in Doug Liman's scintillating Edge of Tomorrow; but guess what? This time, he's not alone. Emily Blunt matches Cruise muscle for muscle, and quip for quip in one of the best male/female action pairings in the history of cinema. The end result is a surprise Oscar contender, that breathes new life into Cruise's career (talk about déjà vu) and cements itself as the new gold standard for superheroes that don't start at the end of one of Stan Lee's drawing pencils.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: The epic action of "Edge of Tomorrow" unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again...and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.

What’s Best: There are a million reasons to love Edge of Tomorrow, beginning with a refreshingly humble and dare I say cowardly Tom Cruise. That's right folks: Cruise's William Cage plays the role of scaredy-cat for the first 30 minutes or so; before slowly evolving into the action megastar we're more used to seeing. How often does Cruise appear unsure of himself on screen; yet alone unable to turn off a safety, or even stay upright for 10 seconds? Better still, he looks comfortable alongside a true co-star for the first time since Interview with the Vampire (as if anyone could refuse the magnetically stunning Blunt.) Great looks aside; Blunt oozes confidence and power without necessarily looking tough. This movie is a huge step-up for Blunt, and I couldn't be happier for her: She's a terrific actress.

Speaking of terrific, Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) adds great pacing, lots of humor, and oodles of suspense to Hiroshi Sakurazaka's animated novel All You Need is Kill, literally bringing it to life on the big screen. At no point in the movie was I close to feeling bored or unimpressed. Liman balances special effects and storyline with incredible ease... allowing plenty of room for Cruise, Blunt and co-stars Brendan Gleeson & Bill Paxton to shine brighter than their speedy, spooky CGI counterparts. That's not to say the effects aren't special (at times, they're amazing) but they don't dominate the movie, and that's incredibly important in reaching a broader audience.

What’s Not: It's almost impossible to avoid comparisons to Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers; but Edge of Tomorrow builds on both to the point of looking original. Even though we see the same day over & over again, it never feels like it. Even the "starting points" change with such regularity, that the film's flow (specifically it's quick pace) seems unaltered. Bravo!

Best Line: Cruise is at his best when equipped with a solid script, which in this case includes lines like, 'I do this (public relations) to avoid doing that (combat.) I'm not a soldier really.' Blunt places a close second with her ominous warning, '10 minutes... then I'm killing you' in one of her many "reset" moments (almost all of which were met with laughter & applause at our screening.)

Overall: This review doesn't seem to do justice to how much I enjoyed loved Edge of Tomorrow. I was smiling from beginning to end (my new tell) and I started thinking about seeing it again (before it was even over.) It has action, humor, suspense, star power... You name it, and it's here (in abundance.) Almost as good as The Raid 2: Berandal, Edge of Tomorrow will be hard to overlook come award season. Best of all, it comes at a time when I was beginning to lose faith in Hollywood's ability to wow me. Hats off to Blunt, Cruise, Liman and Paxton (the ultimate Master Sergeant) for turning a listless summer on its ear. It ain't cheap ($178 million) but cinematic masterpieces rarely are. Enjoy!