Dear Edge of Tomorrow,
As much as I revel in our meeting I know your long and twisted journey establishes a credibility that gives you an almost legendary reputation. From a Japanese military science-fiction light novella that was adapted into a serialized manga and finally into a English graphic novel. Great stories don’t make those kind of rounds without being brilliant. Ironically, the first strike against you would be when Hollywood turns its eye towards you and you aren’t a mindless comic book derivative for the dumbed down masses. Additionally, the second strike and potential death knell would be getting produced as a Tom Cruise starring vehicle.
Suffice it say with all the potential of the original content tempered with and Hollywood’s spotty track record I was guarded but hopeful at our meeting.
The premise is that Earth is invaded by a particularly alien hive-mind which in itself may cause some genre hardcore sci-fi fans to groan, but the first of a long list of master strokes is that we get a sketchy background and have to learn about the details of this menace as we go along and never does it eclipse the human drama playing out in the foreground of the movie.
Not only does the world-building work in filmmaker Doug Liman’s hands, but the character arc of the two protagonists is even more deftly handled and brings pure believability to the screen. As we meet Tom Cruise as Cage, he is a behind the lines skilled military PR mouthpiece for the war effort and as he is called into the General’s office to be told he will be fighting as a grunt at the front lines is when his nightmare begins.
When he stumbles onto a D-day-like beach and the frenzy begins Cage doesn’t last long and as he dies he is infected with one of the Hive’s higher control segments which is an entity that manipulates time. In this case Cage gets to loop back to the previous day to live the hell over and over and over again ad nauseam! It’s the worst kind of Groundhog Day.
Soon after as he meets the war hero Rita, they discover they have shared the same time loop situation and that it’s related to the blood of the aliens and while her loop ended his hasn’t and the hunt is on for a way to kill the central alien mind via an insanely improbable and suicidal plan.
Now with so much repeat repeat repeat, you would think that this film could get boring, yet Liman shows pure genius in making sure that does not happen. The process of Cage’s near infinite dying is treated with humor and angst and irony and tragedy and as Cage and a brilliant Emily Blunt as Rita demonstrate, it is that even in the most insane of situations, we humans are ever more durable, resourceful and noble than we sometimes can believe. To see Cage go from a simpering quivering coward of the worst sort to something more than he and we believe is possible is riveting to watch.
The action that gets him there is also something that all action films should strive to emulate. Doug Liman plants a legendary flag of ownership on the action genre and having previously done Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, this cements him as no fluke and he has put Tom Cruise back on top as a serious action star.
You are marvel Edge of Tomorrow and I look forward to visiting with you regularly all the rest of my days and hope your example serves as a bright beacon to action and sci-fi films to come.