With Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past and now, Edge of Tomorrow, the summer blockbuster season has officially begun.
Tom Cruise plays a military officer who’s killed in battle, only to find himself woken a day before the battle begins. This repeats itself countless times. Cage (Tom Cruise) wakes up in a military base, gets thrown into a war scene á la the attack on Normandy, and dies. He tries to warn people, but they duck tape his moth together and send him out to die. He tries to save his squad, but get’s killed in the attempt. This is where Emily Blunt comes in to the picture. Cage recognize her as the Full Metal
Bitch – the first and most efficient person to use the new, “weapon” suit – and decides to focus his newfound ability on saving her. She had the ability before him, and quickly understands that he has it now. “Come find me when you wake up”, she says, before a fire consumes her. Cage finds and convinces her, they train, and he dies. It repeats.
Since the whole premise of the movie is build around the concept of repetition, and the death of our main character, it’s safe to say it doesn’t play out like every other action summer blockbuster. Tom Cruise fits his role, and it’s fresh and fun to see him in a everyman-role for once. Sure, he becomes an unstoppable killing machine throughout the movie, but seeing as he trains with the best the military has to offer, it fits the story. The fact that the movie can kill off the hero also makes for some fantastic scenes, and it becomes some sort of meta-analysis of the action genre. While running in the middle of a battle, with explosions and bullets all around, it’s hilarious to see Cage get engulfed in flames – only to wake up again. You could argue that this removes any tension from the movie, and in the first act or two it’s true, but it also presents itself as a pseudo-dangerous scenario, so it’s clear to both the audience and the characters that death is only a restart.
This way, the movie becomes a fine mix between brilliant action and cheeky comedy. Doug Liman directs every scene with care, and about midway through the movie, he changes point of view – from Cage to Rita (Emily Blunt) – for one scene, in an almost invisible way.
It’s not something everyone will notice, but this subtle touch of narrative exposition is without a doubt one of the best moments in the movie. In a huge contrast to every scene with Noah Taylor. As much as Taylor does a great job as always, his character only has one purpose, and that’s narrative exposition. The know it all: A simple and efficient way for the movie to explain why certain things work like they do, and set up further hooks in the story.
The two other main characters, Cage and Rita, however, is well done. As stated above, Cage is a fresh take on the action movie hero, where we actually get to see his transformation from everyday-man, to a full-blown “weapon”. It is Rita, and Emily Blunts acting, that deserves the most applaud. Rita is a strong and independent female character, without being hateful, isolated or simply odd. Too often, when movies try to create independent and strong female characters, they exclude any real human emotion to them, but not in this case. Although it does take a cliché turn towards the end, it does so while still showing respect for her as a character.
Edge of Tomorrow is a fresh, fun and action packed summer blockbuster. Tom Cruise plays a role similar to those we’ve seen from him in the past few years, but in the hands of Liman becomes a more organic and natural character. Emily Blunt steals the show however, and Bill Paxton’s almost unrecognizable role, is maybe the funniest we will get this summer.