Tom Cruise – has there ever been a more divisive actor? While he has had some memorable performances, his entire public perception is that of a man who has fallen into a pit of self-parody and plain weirdness. Its a shame, because if you take his personal life out of the equation, you will see Cruise is actually a really good actor, capable of being a perfect lead in big-budget action and science fiction films, as he has all the talents and charms necessary for them. Edge of Tomorrow has several problems, but Cruise is not one of them.
First of all, I wonder if anyone involved has ever heard of Groundhog Day, because that is essentially what this film was. Add a fancy apocalyptic story, some terrifying aliens and lots of action, and it diverts from the fact that this is essentially the exact same plot as the Bill Murray classic. Like Groundhog Day, it has the very interesting message of “Oops, you failed. Try again” – but unlike Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow becomes quite tedious to see the same events over and over again. It loses its novelty about halfway in, and after that it just becomes a matter of praying that Cruise doesn’t die in the film, not because we like his character, but instead because we just want the story to progress.
My issue with big budget films like this is how they can get some terrific performers and have them completely wasted. Brendan Gleeson is superbly talented, but he was just used in a few scenes. His character had the opportunity to develop and become a suitably nasty, terrifying antagonist, or even a little about his backstory would have been welcomed. However, in the capacity he is used, he just becomes a forgettable pseudo-villain who leaves no impression on the experience at all. Same for the unusually talented Bill Paxton, who was just relegated to repeating the same lines over and over again. It gets boring very soon, and his role is comparable to that of Stephen Tobolowsky in Groundhog Day (sorry for another comparison to that film), but unlike Tobolowsky, Paxton is not quite the everyman the character is expected to be. His delivery in every reincarnation is different, which actually affects the experience, because it takes away the novelty that the same event happens everytime Cruise’s character dies.
But enough criticism. This film wasn’t bad at all. Yes, it was quite silly and contrived in parts, and the terrifying alien invaders were so uninspired – every alien in these apocalypse movies seem to be these gargantuan, metal creatures. Whatever happened to the grey, Plasticine intelligent life we were given in early sci-fi movies? Edge of Tomorrow has a good concept, and retains a sense of humor, especially in the dynamic between Cruise and Emily Blunt. My biggest surprise came from the fact that the writers did not even try to explore the romantic chemistry between Cruise and Blunt. That has become such a cliche, it was great to see them actually not have much of a romantic interest in each other over a pure friendship. The film was a lot smarter than it could have been, and it actually does something very well – develops characters along with having an explosive, action-packed story. Too many blockbusters choose to have bland characters and beautiful explosions, while this tries to have both. It worked, as we really start to care about these characters and their journey.
In conclusion, I just want to say how Edge of Tomorrow could have been brainless entertainment, but it worked hard to have a combination of heart and action, and by casting the charming Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise in the lead roles, it actually succeeds in being captivating, but sadly not very memorable, entertainment. It will no doubt be overtaken in a few months by the next high-concept action film, but for the few moments we have with Edge of Tomorrow, its pretty fun to watch.