Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)- An Effectively Executed yet Predictable Science-Fiction Thriller That Boasts an Incredible Video Game as Life Reality Mixed with Surprising Character Humor

edge-of-tomorrow-51ebfad69114dThough a great deal of science-fiction films from Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys to Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future trilogy try to wrangle the elusive fictional concept of time travel into a tangible science it essentially has free reign from the confines of actual science and the logic of the space-time continuum because it’s, as much as we don’t want it to be true, a purely fictional concept. In one of Robert A. Heinlein’s lesser known works “Farnham’s Freehold” there is a quote that states, “there are no paradoxes in time travel, there can’t be,” which highlights the very forgiving nature of time travel as a fully malleable fictional story device that can refute the basic tenants of understood physics. This allowance for illogical time traveling fiction is one of the concepts ingrained within the summer action flick Edge of Tomorrow, a science-fiction Hollywood blockbuster adapted quite accurately from the original source material “All You Need is Kill” written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. In essence Edge of Tomorrow could be accurately described as a militaristic twist on Harold Ramis’s time-bending comedy Groundhog’s Day mixed with the video game as life sensibilities of Tim Tykwer’s Run, Lola, Run that never quite reaches the quality of either of its influences despite a valiant effort that deserves applause. Director Doug Liman who is known for some fairly lackluster action efforts (Jumper, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) as well as some formidable comedy films (Go, Swingers) brings his proclivity for action comedy into Edge of Tomorrow that gives the predictable yet well executed action a light comedic touch making it one of the more guiltily enjoyable blockbusters made in a while. Even though the film never digs deep into the potential damaging psychological and physically traumatizing effects of dying day after day (an aspect that would have enhanced the experience to an artistic degree) it still maintains a great enjoyable pace as humorous interactions find their shining moments amidst a dark fatalistic story that definitely has well defined narrative stakes. Edge of Tomorrow might not be an all-encompassing thought provoking thriller but through its metaphorical intersection of history and fiction it finds a confident stride in delivering a memorable, high octane, and mildly intriguing science-fiction action experience. Slightly flawed but effectively constructed, Edge of Tomorrow finds director Doug Liman finessing his strengths for calculated action extravagance and interactive character comedy while also directing a revitalized Tom Cruise as a worthy protagonist to follow.

A video gamer’s wet dream beyond the idea of a real life Lara Croft is to experience in reality the concept of multiple lives in order to perfect your experience through the memorization of controlled actions and learning from your mistakes and missteps. The script for Edge of Tomorrow written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, The Way of the Gun) and writing team Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Birthday Girl, Fair Game) takes this video game wet dream and turns it into a video game as life reality confidently adapting Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s original light novel “All You Need is Kill” into an adrenaline infused action thriller with surprising deviations into clever comedic timing. Edge of Tomorrow takes place in the future where alien invaders name mimics have taken control of a majority of Europe and the remaining fighting forces have united as the UDF (United Defense Force) opening with D-Day parallel preparations for an invasion of Normandy Beach (appropriate release for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day). Major Cage (Tom Cruise), a spineless war spinner and Major of the United States Army, finds himself in the middle of the action after an attempted blackmail of overseeing General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson). When Cage inadvertently kills an advanced alien mimic that has the power of time travel ingrained in its blood he finds himself in an irreversible time loop as he relives the slaughter of their Normandy Invasion as he begins to utilize the loop to develop as a soldier and attempt to change the fate of the war. While the script mistakes the growth of character ability for the growth of character development the film’s main intention of bringing a video game reality into a palpable science-fiction reality does resound confidently throughout the script’s narrative as it humorously plays around with Cage’s accidental and sometimes gruesome deaths as well as his developing relationship with fellow killing machine soldier Rita (Emily Blunt). Narratively the story builds rather predictably but it’s one of those predictable experiences that you enjoy reliving exactly as if you were a gamer replaying a narrative game that has a clearly defined path but a plethora of action packed thrills to make the journey always worth taking. If it weren’t for the surprisingly accurate adaptation of Sakurazaka’s original light novel and the proper consideration of character humor to liven up this potentially darkened, fatalistic tale then this militaristic Groundhog’s Day could have suffered from taking itself too seriously, which this film successfully does not.

More on this review coming soon.

Grade: B

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