There is so much energy, and action, packed into every ounce of Edge of Tomorrow that you can hardly catch your breath to consider its logic, depths, or achievements before the next plot point or spiralling tentacle comes hurdling at you. As to logic things start out inexplicably, with Tom Cruise, a media relations military man suddenly found at the heart of a crucial assault on an colonising alien invasion. It’s best not to dwell on the how and why and perhaps the movie knows this by quickly getting to its blockbuster core.
The crux of the movie is that Cruise comes to re-live the day of the assault on a loop. The zenith of same-day-on-a-loop movies is of course is Groundhog Day but here Cruise reboots the day usually by suffering a horrible death rather than nodding off in a Punxsutawney B&B. It’s a brave movie that removes consequence from death and any question of depth is limited here; there is story and plot turns to get to, montages of endless days strung together, and hugely impressive action. Any emotional or mental strain doesn’t get a look in but importantly the panache and pace of the movie means this isn’t a negative. The movie maps an evolution of skill rather than character; the ill-trained military man adapts and becomes a weapon. What he knows, as much as what he can do, becomes crucial and intriguing and positions the movie as a thrill-ride and, even, at times, a thriller.
Tom Cruise is, well, Tom Cruise. Character name immaterial, neither likeable nor unlikeable, when Cruise is on leading man duties in high-concept action there is no one else that can lead a charge like him. He carries this material so well and you suspect Cruise himself would re-live each day with the focus his character does. Cruise diverts from the action mould infrequently and does seem to be subscribed to the Harrison Ford school of movie star rather than actor; so while there is nothing to distinguish this man from a previous outing in Oblivion that is not to say it doesn’t work. Cruise is stern, emphatic and committed and never a weak link.
The execution of the concept is handled expertly, with enough variation, humour, and progression to keep everyone invested. The visceral action helps; while the potential for gore from the blender blade propelling aliens is kept kid-friendly neutered a fun, rollercoaster vibe is still achieved – end result, we are entertained. That said, there is some familiar shtich; a motley crew, quick fix science, plot-holes, set pieces placed at famous monuments, and a whimpering, safe conclusion. There is no challenge here for the viewer. Thankfully the inevitable ‘girl’ role does not follow convention; Emily Blunt as a high-profile soldier in the on-going war is the equal and better of every man on screen, physically, mentally, with a key stake in the movie. Blunt is refreshing and nuanced and ensures the movie is a partnership rather than a solo Cruise. (Severe will power has been deployed here to avoid Blunt and Edge puns).
Edge of Tomorrow is not new but we can forgive it that. The movie has the Tom Cruise brand, and the strength of premise, to hold-off franchises and well-known source material coming from other quarters this summer. It is a big-screen spectacle but is also the type of movie that will sit happily in the reliable action movies we turn to come future Saturday nights. That’s an achievement.