'Edge of Tomorrow': Tom Cruise, the Last Movie Star, makes latest alien invasion movie 'exceptionally entertaining'
Hiroshi Sakurazaka's popular illustrated novel All You Need Is Kill was originally published in 2004, and has seen a number of adaptations and republications, including serialization as an even more popular manga in Japan and, translated from the original, an American graphic novel recently republished as Edge of Tomorrow. The latter is a better title for a movie, particularly a summer blockbuster featuring the last movie star, the full depth and breadth of his star powers at work in every scene – as he is literally in every scene – turning what would have been a serviceable military sci-fi adventure movie into an exceptionally entertaining sci-fi drama that reminds one what the purpose of a movie star is: to make the audience care about characters and events they otherwise would not care about at all. I don't care about killer-alien invasion movies anymore; they bore me, except when the last movie star is leading the battle against the evil aliens hellbent on eating humanity. Tom Cruise is the last movie star, and fortunately, he's in Edge of Tomorrow, making it better despite itself.
'Edge of Tomorrow': D-Day meets 'Independence Day' meets 'Groundhog Day'
In Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, an American Public Information Officer leading the recruiting charge for the British military as they prepare to mount an all out D-Day meets Independence Day-style attack against invading alien hordes called Mimics. Mimics are wildly erratic creatures that attack like the Tasmanian Devil from the old Warner Bros. cartoons, spinning and flailing from every direction. They have octopus-like tentacles and elongated faces with fangs like the monster from Ridley Scott's original 1979 Alien film, and, apparently, they can control time.
Our hero, while dedicated to his particular specialty – which is really advertising – is not particularly heroic at all. He's not a coward per se, but Cage knows he will have no chance on a battlefield against the enemy, not even in the newly developed MechWarrior battle suit he has been pitching as the next best chance at human salvation. In fact, he's right, as he's killed about two minutes after landing in the middle of the battleground. Then Cage wakes up from death, and suddenly D-Day meets Independence Day also meets Groundhog Day; and Edge of Tomorrow begins – again.
For reasons thoroughly explained – and completely ignored by this critic, as they are ridiculous – Cage finds himself in a classic time loop scenario, repeating the same day over and over again, each time advancing in his skills as a soldier and in his knowledge of what will happen next, bit by bit, until he gets killed again. And again. And again.
Finally, he meets Rita Vrataski, the internationally lauded hero alien killer played with great virility by Emily Blunt. Blunt is an actress who shed an early inclination for playing prissy 18th-century English girls who knit to play instead tough, sexy 21st-century English girls who kick ass. Rita knows what's happening to Cage because it once happened to her. Together they hatch a plan which they will have to die to execute, over and over again, until it works – or they stay dead, whichever happens first.
Tom Cruise, not CGI aliens, makes 'Edge of Tomorrow' a summer 2014 blockbuster
Edge of Tomorrow is full of action and spectacle, and even the drama of war, as most of it is staged like any number of large-scale World War II films, from The Longest Day and The Bridge at Remagen to Battle of Britain and Saving Private Ryan. Director Doug Liman, a filmmaker who began his career helming smart little comedies like Swingers and Go before signing on to the Bourne Identity series, handles the green-screened spectacle well enough; but make no mistake, it isn't CGI aliens and battle sequences that make Edge of Tomorrow a summer blockbuster. What will make Edge of Tomorrow a movie that people will go see all over the world in summer 2014 is the movie star at its center. The last movie star: Tom Cruise.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Dir.: Doug Liman. Scr.: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Christopher McQuarrie; from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need Is Kill. Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Jonas Armstrong, Tony Way, Kick Gurry, Franz Drameh, Dragomir Mrsic, Charlotte Riley, Noah Taylor, Terence Maynard, Lara Pulver, Masayoshi Haneda, Jeremy Piven, Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
Tom Cruise Edge of Tomorrow image: Warner Bros.