Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

JohnnyTwoToes reviews what was perhaps 2014's best Sci-Fi Actioner!

If you are one of those who is yet to see it, Edge of Tomorrow is a clever science fiction action film that is kind of a cross between Groundhog Day and Pacific Rim but done with panache. If that does not peak your interest then you might want to skip it, but that would be a mistake because its rather well made with spectacular action sequences, good performances by the lead pair of Tom Cruise and Emily blunt besides terrific direction by Doug Liman who also gave us good flicks like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper and The Bourne Identity; all first-class films in their own elements and all very different, just like this one. 

Based on the Japanese novel 'All You Need Is Kill' written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow was originally titled on the novel name, but since it was considered a tad negative with the word “Kill” in the titke, it was then rebranded to a more PC like, “Edge of Tomorrow” with the tagline 'Live, Die, Repeat’. A tagline that was later pushed and repushed aggressively more than the original title when this movie was released on video. At any rate, I guess it was irrelevant considering it’s a Tom Cruise vehicle. 

Set sometime in the future, the film stars Tom Cruise as Cage, a public relations attaché for the military who is sent to a boot camp in preparation for a huge offensive Earth is getting ready to execute against vicious aliens attacking our planet. Cage has never seen action before, has very little training and has little voice in the matter yet he is sent to a unit which employ special suits to fight the alien hordes. Inexperienced and ill prepared, he gets killed but he wakes up again to experience his death one more time and it repeats again and again. Each day he gets killed in combat and soon realizes he is stuck in a warped time loop where he wakes up the previous day, knowing very well what will happen in the battle ala Groundhog Day style. There are other, more supernatural elements in the story but since I am recommending this film, I don't want to ruin it by saying anything further. 

Edge of Tomorrow could have been a mess, given the rather ordinary one day plot. If Liman and writers Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth simply repeated each day from start, it would have been a nightmare to sit through. Credit the filmmakers for a smartly written screenplay and giving audience credence for being smart enough to know what is happening without rehashing the same scenes over and over again. 

The characters are interesting especially the arrival of Earth's foremost warrior, Rita, played by the smolderingly sexy, Emily Blunt. She is fierce, fearless and has a mental connection to Cage who seems to be connected to the alien psyche. They have interesting chemistry as a screen couple, but the film does not oversell it; less is more, here. There are some scenes that we have seen before, as the two fall in love, but it works for the film. There are a couple of other scenes too we have seen before such as an extended training montage that is funny in spots. Still it has a nice touch and works for the film, for the most part. The cast all turn in solid performances and we care about what happens to them. 

In addition to the sharp script, direction and action, I have to give a hat tip to Cinematographer Dion Beebe and Film Editor James Herbert who create a vibrant world of the aliens and have the film cut to a quick pace so that we are up on all of the action and characters without a lot of extra nonsense to get back to that point. This is an exceedingly well edited film and for a film like this, it HAS to be otherwise we would all be snoozing in our seats. Christophe Beck's score is a hybrid of electronics and orchestral arrangements and it is quite effective for the battle sequences which are plentiful and the music gets you right into the action. Beck is an excellent composer who struck gold with Frozen and he gets it done, here with Edge of Tomorrow, his first scifi work. I also got a kick out of Bill Paxton as the drill instructor who comes across as a combination of a devout priest and a door to door salesman, complete with a prepared speech for each recruit. 

In spite of largely positive reviews, Edge of Tomorrow was sadly a flop at the domestic box office. Costing 178 million dollars to make, it barely broke 100 million in US ticket sales however it recouped over $269 million worldwide banking on the popularity of Cruise in the international market. And although not perfect, Edge of Tomorrow is fun, crafty, has a sly wit and loads of great action. All the expensive cost on screen looks great, is put to good use and the meat of this film is in Liman's direction, Cruise’s persona and the tight screenplay. They all work and, despite some hiccups, Edge of Tomorrow is a good night at the movies or at your home! Edge of Tomorrow-*** out of 4


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