Edge of Tomorrow

  • edge of tomorrowAs it is often funny, suspenseful and surprisingly emotionally acute, Edge of Tomorrow could wind up being 2014’s best summer blockbuster.
  • Give ample credit to writers Christopher McQuarrie, and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, who develop Major William Page (Tom Cruise) and Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) with complexity and authenticity; both are flawed but compelling people.
  • And both appropriately change as the film progresses, a fact that is doubly impressive in Vrataski’s case. After all, unlike Page, she cannot learn life lessons from repeating this day.
  • The writers deserve accolades for explaining their science fiction without ever falling into over-indulgent exposition.
  • And for making a film with multiple recycled scenes fresh and exciting. Edge of Tomorrow never once succumbs to repetitiveness.
  • Tom Cruise earns just as much praise, if only because he simultaneously shoulders much of Edge of Tomorrow’s humor and most of its drama, a balancing act at which he proves adept.
  • Director Doug Liman’s work is superb. By refusing to provide contextual clues for the numbers of times Page has lived this day, Liman makes the audience comfortable with the screenplay’s omitted scenes. When Rita asks Page, ‘When? In what circumstances did I tell you that?’ we wonder the same. Is Cage lying? Is it one of the events we haven’t seen? Our confusion does not distract us, but rather hooks us.
  • Liman’s use of special effects is equally strong. The mimics are frightening; the explosions disturbing; the rare slow motion deliberative; and so forth.
  • Moreover, the director’s opening battle sequence is one of the better such scenes I have seen, comparable to those in Saving Private Ryan (1998), Band of Brothers (2001) or All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).
  • Edge of Tomorrow makes a handful of missteps, however. First, secondary characters, including every member of J-Squad and Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor, terrific), receive too little treatment.
  • General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) suffers even more from under-characterization. There are myriad possible explanations for his actions, but we are left to guess at which to accept, because the writers and director do not provide enough evidence for any of them.
  • Bordering on cliche: the opening sequence, which shows clips of media personalities summarizing the picture’s setting.
  • And the mimics themselves, which are more than a little derivative (read: Ender’s Game).
  • The final action sequence is rushed and a touch anti-climatic. It is the first time McQuarrie and the Butterworths fail to capture appropriate emotion, and, given the moment’s importance, their failure is disappointing.
  • Yet, none of these flaws come to close to ruining Edge of Tomorrow. The film doesn’t quite reach greatness, but it still earns a strong recommendation.
  • Final Grade: B+

16 thoughts on “Edge of Tomorrow

  1. You make good points about certain characters not getting enough screen time. The direction is good by the way Liman does not reveal certain time passing elements.

  2. Excellent points. I am in agreement on pretty much all of them. I think it’s a fair comment to say that Cruise handles the dramatic and humorous sides of the film well.

  3. Nice to see you back!

    I can understand why some of the supporting characters did not get much screen-time! It is many different folks to handle and the movie was already long enough haha! I still liked some of them and thought that they stood out!

    However, the main issue that we both heavily agree on is the ending. Oh man…it is like copy and paste. A movie in 2013 had that very same ending. I’d name it but do not want to post spoilers on your page! I read spoilers of the novel and prefer that ending due to the emotional it has in comparison.

    • Thanks.

      And I don’t actually know the ending to the book, but I’m not surprise to hear it’s better. The movie could make a fair amount of improvement.

  4. Great review Josh! I agree w/ most of your points, esp this: The writers deserve accolades for explaining their science fiction without ever falling into over-indulgent exposition. Indeed! A lot of sci-fi got bogged done by exposition, but a little mystery goes a long way. Cruise’s still got it, charisma that is, not sure about his bankable quality as the film didn’t do as well as studio expected.

    • In the States, the film didn’t do real well. But it is crushing the international market and will therefore be plenty profitable. I also think there’s a better than average chance this does well in the secondary home release market, given all of the positive word of mouth.

      Agreed on Sci-Fi and exposition.

  5. Good to hear your voice added to the general praise this film is getting. To be fair to Cruise he does tend to pick good projects (for the most part). As such it’s a shame that he is not the Box Office draw he once was thanks to his off-screen persona.

    • It is a shame, agreed. He’s a talented actor and many of his projects are plenty thought provoking.

      But it’s worth noting that Edge of Tomorrow, at least upon its release, was a rousing success internationally. United States audiences might not be flocking to see Cruise’s films, but the rest of the world appears to continue doing so.

  6. A great time at the movies, this was! I think it’s a cliche in itself by now to say that the film was surprising because of it’s quality. At the same time, damn that must feel kind of awkward being the director of this project. Of course, you are ecstatic people are talking positively about it (even despite it’s unimpressive U.S. numbers at the B.O.), but yet you have to wonder: are people just getting tired of Cruise or the pairing of Cruise with sci-fi films? To what degree is the criticism justified against a film like this and at what point does it become obnoxious?

    In fairness, to me this didn’t look anything different from Oblivion, but. . .again, yes. I was way, way wrong. As you know already. 🙂

    • I do at that. 🙂

      And good questions, all. In the US, I think it is mostly a sign that this movie was not well marketed. So many people were surprised by how good it is because we didn’t have any reason to expect an emotionally poignant, character driven mystery. All of the marketing efforts made us think this would be just another flick in which Cruise destroys and kills stuff. Much, as you said, like Oblivion.

  7. I must say that I am surprised with all the positive reviews coming back for this. The trailer left me highly underwhelmed and sparked no interest for me, but it seems that I will have to look into this regardless of what the trailer depicted, seems it was a pretty decent summer blockbuster.

    • Better than decent, not quite worthy of being called great. Very good, though.

      The trailer advertises a different movie – it makes it seem this is Oblivion meets Groundhog Day. And it’s not, really. It is much more interesting than that.

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