Here’s all you need to know about the “plot” of Tom Cruise’s newest sci-fi thriller, “Edge of Tomorrow:” It’s “Groundhog Day” with killer space aliens known as Mimics. Amazingly, it’s not a comedy. Of course, Tomorrow borrows liberally from yesterday, including sources other than Groundhog Day. Did I say borrows? I meant steals. There are, in no particular order of importance, the buff kickass hottie from “Terminator 2,” the mechanical battle suits from the book “Starship Troopers,” and a cross between the CGI aliens from “Attack the Block” and the arachnids from the movie “Starship Troopers.” Aaaaand, there’s more . . .
Co-writer Christopher McQuarrie, who also wrote “The Usual Suspects,” was going for a similar tricky ending, but couldn’t get there without Keyser Soze. Let’s just politely say that the ending, which I will not reveal, will have viewers smiling right up until the time they say “wait a minute” and realize that what they’ve seen just might contradict the entire premise of the plot.
Want more stealery? You got it! Tomorrow has action galore and plenty of battle scenes with American soldiers dropping from the sky like Starship Troopers over the beaches of Normandy. As in Normandy, France. Stop laughing. And the movie was initially released in the US on June 6th.
Then there are the guns. Yes, Hollywood’s infatuation with firearms continues even as the disparagement of gun owners likewise continues.
In Tomorrow, the principal sidearm of the United Defense Forces infantry, or at least the non-coms, is the SIG-Sauer P226R. It’s carried by two sergeants in the film, so I’m guessing that it’s regulation gear. Actually, the P226R would not a bad choice fora sidearm, especially if SIG paid a reasonable promotion fee to the producers.
The infantry’s standard assault rifle appears to be the Colt M4A1. We’ll get back to that later. Cruise also carries what seems to be an FN SCAR-H, which is painted black either to look cool or evil, depending on the director’s point of view. I vote for cool. Interestingly, Cruise’s SCAR-H is chambered for 5.56 NATO instead of 7.62. How’d that happen? Dunno, but we’ll get back to that later, too.
Cruise also looks mighty handy with a shotgun, maybe a Remington 870 or a clone, although the gun is never completely revealed and the scene is photographed darkly. Cruise demonstrates his expertise with the boomstick the very first time he picks it up when he jacks the slide in a totally badass way, ejecting an unfired round. Impressive. Yes, the director copied a stupid shotgun trick from a hundred other films, but so what? It enhances the sound track.
Then there is the previously mentioned mechanical suit, which comes in three styles. Right away I’m skeptical. Army gear comes in two sizes – Too Large and Too Small. Style is not permitted or required.
The grunts get a suit that gives them superhuman strength and enough armament to take on the entire Iraqi army. On second thought, based on what’s happening now, our grunts wouldn’t need mechanical suits. They could take on entire Iraqi army in bbusiness suits, armed with nothing but sharp sticks and whatever the Iraqi army throws away.
The exoskeletons cram a lot of firepower into a bulky metal package that reminded me of David Byrnes’ big suit. There’s the aforementioned SCAR, an FN EGLM grenade launcher, a three-barreled cannon on each arm balanced out by an autocannon on the other arm, and a grenade or missile or something launcher that pops up from behind the shoulder like the creature’s blaster in “Predator.”
One of the grunts dresses up his breastplate with a Claymore mine and a little duct tape. Yeah, if I’m ever attacked by murderous aliens from outer space, I’ll be wanting a Claymore taped to my chest. Note to self: the convex side faces the enemy. Oh, and one of the soldiers fights balls out. Literally. Yeah, I gotta try that, too.
Now let’s take on the rifles. In Tomorrow we have the forces of the united earth taking on the most vicious alien invaders since Los Zetas crossed the Rio Grande. Aspreviously noted, the good guys are dressed in ultra-sophisticated multimillion-dollar Japanese-speaking mechanical exoskeletons with starter switches made by anybody except GM. And the principle firearm they carry fires those little BBs that we affectionately refer to as the 5.56 NATO round, which naturally do a very poor job of dispatching the powerful killer alien time-shifters from outer space. Suuuuuure.
Why the 5.56? You know, I’m beginning to think that Tomorrow features that little NATO pellet because that’s what the Mobile Infantry used in Starship Troopers, with approximately the same results. Then again, Cruise is able to kill some aliens with his mechanical hands but has trouble putting them down with his assault rifle. Why? I dunno, but the suit shouldn’t be more powerful than the gun.
So with all these mental deficits, what does Edge of Tomorrow have going for it? First, the pacing.
Like a raging bull with long legs, the film moves fast and nothing drags. You’d think that seeing the same scenes over and over again would be boring, but no. You’d think that seeing the same scenes over and over again would be boring, but no. Seewhat I did there? That was boring, but the movie always had a little twist or turn to keep it fresh, like a game of lightning chess. With gunfire.
Second, the battle scenes. Not as gory as Starship Troopers, they nevertheless wereexciting. The killer aliens were sometimes a little hard to follow on screen, but that actually worked to the director’s advantage. Unfortunately, we never get to see the aliens’ weaponry. We see streaks against the sky and American stuff blowing up in France, but not the artillery that caused the damage. Then again, we did see the weaponry in Starship Troopers as we watched plumes of fire bursting from gigantic bug asses, so maybe Tomorrow was sparing us from further indignity.
Third, the cast. Cruise is perfect for the part, unlike his character in Jack Reacher when he tried to play a guy ten inches taller, a hundred pounds heavier and juuuuuust a bit more masculine.
In Tomorrow, Cruise turns in a classic Tom Cruise performance. He’s Lt. Colonel Cage – cage, as in he’s a prisoner, in a time loop. Get it? Cruise starts out as an unprincipled and cowardly light colonel and slowly morphs into the righteous PrivateCage, a devil-may-care go-for-broke hero. Remember in “Risky Business,” when Joel Goodson (Cruise) famously said near the end, “Sometimes you just gotta say, “Whatthe f*ck, make your move.” That’s exactly what Cage does near the edge of the Edge of Tomorrow.
I’ll also note that Cruise is starting to show his age, and it this movie that works to his advantage. It seemed that he was ooften shot with a fuzzy filter, or maybe I needed to clean my eyeglasses. In either case, Cruise looked like the reprobate Lt. Colonel Cage at the beginning of the movie and the dynamic Private Cage at the end. There are also several light touches throughout the movie that exploit Cruise’s ability as a fantastic natural comic.
Emily Blunt does a great job as Sergeant Rita Vrataski by channeling her inner LindaHamilton (from T2), but with a real English accent. Vrataski is a badass, affectionately known as the “Full Metal Bitch” for her alien killing prowess at the Battle of Verdun. Not the 1916 battle between the Brits, the French and the Germans, but the new Battle of Verdon between the Brits, the French, the Germans and the aliens. Move along everybody. No déjà vu to see here.
Where Cage is timid, Rita is gung-ho. She fights with the grace of a ballet dancer in the heavy metal suit while Cruise blunders around like a wounded mule as he gets his ass kicked in training. And did I mention that Blunt was totally buffed? And with guns? And with child (in real life, not in the movie). Oh, coincidentally, Rita is also the name of the lead female character in Groundhog Day. Tribute or copy – you decide.
The redoubtable Bill Paxton is wonderful at playing snarky Master Sergeant Farell, ditching his real Texas drawl in favor of a fake Kentucky drawl. The heavy-set Brendon Gleeson is fine as a foreign General who is a heavy, but I have no idea why his uniform was too sizes too large or why he sounded like an Irishman trying to play an Englishman or something.
Despite its myriad of faults and it’s merciless ripoff of Groundhog Day, I enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow when I saw it today. Or was it yesterday? It’s set up for a sequel, so we might see it again. Despite the overcooked, ultra-derivative plot, the movie works as a brainless but exciting action flick. You may want to see it today. Or tomorrow. Or whenever. And bring the kids. It’s rated PG-13. Younger kids might be scared by the aliens or the noise of the battle scenes.
Model: Edge of Tomorrow
Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Length: 113 minutes
Action: Pretty good, even though you’ve seen it before
Finish: Happy happy joy joy, but seems to contradict the basic premise of the movie
Price: $176 million, and the financial backers will be happy with their investment. It’s earned over $255 million so far, with no end in sight
RATINGS (out of five bullets):
Style * * * *
Director Doug Limon knows how to direct an action movie – he keeps it moving and exciting and doesn’t get bogged down in a love story. The pacing, despite the Groundhog Day repetition, is lightning quick. Some of the battle scenes were tightly shot, which in the hands of other directors makes it difficult for the audience tofollow the action. Not so here. The CGI is also better than most.
Reliability * * * *
The entire cast was great at adding personality to the script. Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton are excellent,Brendan Gleeson is sufficiently oily and the supporting cast does a great job of dying on cue.
Overall * * * *
A time-waster that’s actually worth the time.