42 Screens: Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow is Tom Cruise’s latest foray into the sci-fi film. He is a soldier sent into battle, dies in the middle of the skirmish, wakes up the day before and is forced to eternally relive the same day, the same battle, over and over again.

So let’s get this out of the way – It’s Groundhog Day in a sci-fi setting!

The plot is about an alien species that crash lands on Earth, traveling via an asteroid, and then begins its attack on the world. They go undefeated in their conquering of Europe, until all that remains in London, safe for a single loss. After this win, during the battle that elevated Emily Blunt’s character to fame, the humans unite, wearing new battle armour akin to a smaller version of the lift suit that Ripley wore in Aliens, and prepare for a final massive strike.

The strike fails, horribly, and Tom Cruise dies within the first five minutes. He wakes up a day earlier and restarts the entire process.

Sci-fi Groundhog Day isn’t new; it’s been seen in dozens of shows from Haven, Stargate SG1, Supernatural and even Xena. Yet this movie is very clever and avoids some of the standard tropes. We don’t spend fifteen minutes watching Tom Cruise trying to convince everyone what’s happening, we get that for like two min tops – with funny results – instead we get Emily Blunt as the Full Metal Bitch – a woman who had the same power in the last battle and lost it after a blood transfusion.

She trains him to be a better soldier and reveals the true McGuffin for the film – the Omega- your typical Heinlein, style brain bug. She trains him over and over, killing him at the end of each day so he can reset.

Then there are the battles.

The battles could be played out over and over again in a poor manner, in a fashion that would start to drag on in a fashion similar to Vantage Point. Instead they are played out in a comical montage as we see Cruise run into battle, die by something silly or dumb – like miscalculating his timing while trying to roll under a moving truck or being hit by a random bug – only for the film to pick up a second earlier and see him progressing even further. It reminded me of playing an on-rail shooter. The same guy pops out at the exact same moment and the only way your able to get past that guy is not by skill but by timing and memory. It was like Bill Murray trying to plan the perfect evening with Andie MacDowell and failing horribly.

Unlike some of Cruise’ sci-fi endeavours – Minority Report and Oblivion,– this film seems to skirt the edge of sci-fi but keeps it firmly relatable. The date is not that far ahead of us and the tech is still around our level. It reminded me a lot of War of the Worlds but unlike the 2005 film, Edge of Tomorrow chooses not to focus on the character’s development, choosing instead to focus on aliens and the war, but we still see Cruise go from a coward trying to avoid combat altogether to a soldier and a leader.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film, more so then War or Oblivion, and was happy to get a chance to see it.

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