After weeks of waiting, the Mysterious Mr. C and I were finally able to see Edge of Tomorrow, the new Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt action flick, last Friday! While we had wanted to see it the weekend it came out, we were visiting family and ended up going to see A Million Ways to Die in the West instead (Short review of that – I almost walked out of the theater twice, and almost fell asleep once!).
Since the movie had been out for a little while, I had started to see somewhat ambivalent reviews of the film, as well as a Bloomberg Businessweek article that asked if Cruise was even still a movie star. As such, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but was still looking forward to the film.
Having now seen it, I think it is safe to say that Edge of Tomorrow has been getting short shrift in the media. Yes, it is reminiscent of Groundhog Day and many of the other alien invasion movies – or war films for that matter – that have come out over the years, but it is craftier and more clever than those analogies suggest.
First of all, the cinematography, which demonstrates that the characters are in a time loop, yet moves the plot forward, is extremely well done. In these sorts of films, there is a fine line between establishing the loop and making it monotonous and I thought the writers and the director did a great job of striking the right balance in all of the living, dying, and repeating that made up the movie.
But in an era of CGI-reliant special effects departments, it was also refreshing to see these actors at work. Emily Blunt is fantastic as Rita Vrataski, a no-nonsense, badass special forces soldier known as the Angel of Verdun. Though I have loved Blunt since I saw her in The Devil Wears Prada, this was the first time I’ve seen her in an action role and she was extremely convincing (she also inspired me to be a little more serious in the gym!).
Yet as good as Blunt is, the real star here is Cruise. His performance as Maj. William Cage, the film’s reluctant hero, has a certain tongue-in-cheek quality to it, which is made all the more fun as Cruise himself seems to be in on the joke. As the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday notes, he “delivers a one-man master class in his own fascinatingly protean screen presence. Starting out as a shallow, cocksure sharpie ‘Jerry Maguire’ – even sporting some ‘Risky Business’ baby fat – he smoothly navigates the myriad tiny transformations that Cage goes through, until he becomes the flinty, competent, steely-eyed saver-of-the-day that his ‘Mission: Impossible’ years have taught us to expect.”
Now, I will admit that Cruise lost me a little bit in 2005 with his couch-jumping antics, and I will agree with those critics who say he seems to be playing the same character over and over again in his own career time loop lately, but I have to respect a man who is willing to poke fun at himself.
On its surface, Edge of Tomorrow looks like any other big-budget action film, but the brilliant writing and solid performances of those involved make it a must-see summer blockbuster.