The movie centers on slick United Defense Force officer Bill Cage who is unceremoniously thrust into the frontline in a battle against mimics—alien invaders with no clear motive or purpose. Clamped into a kick-ass battle suit, the cowardly PR officer is killed in his first battle but, for reasons that he must uncover throughout the course of the movie, is forced to live the same day over and over again. However the movie’s writers and director fail to fully embrace their outlandish time-travel premise, seeking to herd the plot and performances back to a perceived safe middle ground which ultimately does a disservice to what could have been a true sci-fi classic.
Despite this, Edge of Tomorrow is good. Tom Cruise puts in a nuanced and believable performance as the cowardly officer forced to become an action hero. However, he soon reverts to type and the audience is greeted with traditional Tom Cruise-fare which, for me, is one of the places where the movie falls down. Cruise is more interesting when playing against type, as the brash but craven officer out of his depth. Emily Blunt is magnificent as the inscrutable Sergeant Rite Vrataski, the Angel of Verdun, who previously possessed, and squandered, the same time travel “power” that Cage is granted, acting as guide and friend to Tom Cruise’s chickenhearted hero.
The movie falls into a number of tropes that it might have been better to avoid. There is the obligatory quest and training montage; the mad scientist with all the answers and the unlikely deus ex machine that can destroy the aliens; and, of course, the mandatory big showpiece ending where everything unlikely comes together for our heroes. This is not to mention the kind of stock space marine characters that pepper the movie, including the tough-as-nails training sergeant (played by Bill Paxton). These characters are, unfortunately, not fleshed out enough and remain almost cardboard figures which is a state of affairs not helped by the fact that we see them die over and over again. This could be forgivable if Edge of Tomorrow’s bevy of scriptwriters were trying to make some kind of comment on the impermanence of life and friendship during war or how far removed Cage—who has lived this day over hundreds of times—has become, but that is clearly not the intentions.
Still, there is much to admire throughout Edge of Tomorrow, not least the kick-ass mech suits worn by the United Defense Forces which manage to be both realistic and exhilarating. While director Doug Liman (whose previously directorial offerings include The Bourne Identity) shines when shooting the visceral action scenes that define this movie. The shaky cam warfare and slow motion shots result in some of the movies standout moments, it’s just a shame these weren’t utilized to tell a more interesting story.
The extras offered on the DVD and Blu-Ray unfortunately fail to live up to what we have, perhaps unfairly, come to expect. A few documentaries and featurettes, but unfortunately no commentary track featuring the director or actors. We also have some deleted scenes which flesh out the characters a bit more, but it is clear why they made it to the cutting room floor.
Verdict: Three Stars
This article was originally published here.