In a summer stuffed with event movies meant to dazzle with larger-than-life effects while extending already established franchises, Edge of Tomorrow slides in as one of the season’s wild cards – an explosive sci-fi action movie billed as “Groundhog Day inside an alien invasion,” starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in giant, weaponized suits. Will it get lost among its more buzzed-about reboots and sequels, or will Edge of Tomorrow quietly edge out its competition in terms of story, characters, action and general entertaining badassery?
Oh, it’s most certainly the latter. Edge of Tomorrow leaps onto the summer-movie playing field with ferocious tenacity, expertly balancing large-scale action with humor, tension, courage and the kind of flawed heroes you really grow to invest in.
Straight up, Edge of Tomorrow is now the event movie to beat this summer, and here’s why:
1. It’s refreshingly original
Although it’s based on a novel called All You Need Is Kill and reminds you very much of Groundhog Day as the story plays out, there’s something truly refreshing about going into this movie clean without needing to acquire knowledge of a franchise’s characters, history or potential sequels before watching.
Sure, you’ll sense nods to everything from Saving Private Ryan to Starship Troopers to War of the Worlds, but Edge of Tomorrow is unique in that it never feels like it’s imitating what’s worked before, but rather reinventing it in a way that consistently keeps you on your toes.
2. Tom Cruise is a total wimp
At the start of the film, we meet Cruise’s Bill Cage. He’s the fake military guy you put on TV chat shows to update people on the progress being made in an all-out war against invading alien forces. He’s never been in combat and never wants to go near it, which complicates matters when he’s tasked with joining soldiers on the front lines in a D-Day-like surprise attack.
Naturally he’s killed almost immediately, but not before taking out a special kind of alien whose blood, when mixed with Cage’s, allows him to keep reliving the same day over and over. Unfortunately, the only way to trigger a new version of the day is death.
What’s great about this Tom Cruise action role compared to all his other ones is that he’s a total wimp at the start of the movie. He’s such a pansy that even papercuts freak him out. So the tremendous amount of growth he experiences throughout the film does nothing but endear us to him even more, in a way we don’t usually expect from a Tom Cruise character. In most movies, he's always a badass from the get-go, but this time that badass is played by someone else… and it’s a woman!
3. A summer movie where a woman is the ultimate action hero
They call her “Full Metal Bitch,” and Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataski lives up to that nickname and then some. A true steel-blooded warrior who’s famous for leading the only successful attack on the aliens to date, Rita displays the kind of raw, no-nonsense toughness that’s completely alien to Cruise’s Bill Cage.
There’s a real sexiness about her, too, but that sexiness is revealed more through her strength (in some scenes, literally) instead of her outfits. Rita and Cage couldn’t be more different, which is what makes their unlikely partnership work. He needs to learn how to harness this power and use it to end the war, and she’s the only one with enough experience to help.
When was the last time someone had to teach Tom Cruise how to be a badass, and that someone was a female?
4. It’s actually really funny
There’s just something inherently funny about having to live the same day over and over again, especially as Cage memorizes the mechanics of every single moment and then learns to use that knowledge to his advantage.
You’ll laugh watching him continually try to convince Rita to help when she wants nothing to do with him, and you’ll appreciate how the film has more creative death scenes than any movie in recent history. At least I did.
5. It features the greatest shotgun moment since Terminator 2
In my opinion, every action movie should have at least one memorable shotgun moment. One of my all-time favorites comes in Terminator 2, when Arnold needs to reload his shotgun while riding a motorcycle, and he spins it around in one hand while driving with the other. It’s like the ultimate “cool” moment in that movie, and Tom Cruise has one towards the end of Edge of Tomorrow that will certainly rival it.
I’m not sure where the shotgun came from or why he thinks it’ll work against some pretty gnarly aliens, but it’s there in this scene and it’s just this pure action-star moment from one of Hollywood’s greatest action stars.
-- Bill Paxton, who plays the hilariously menacing platoon sergeant that greets Cage every time the day resets. Paxton is just barely recognizable as he steals moments from Cruise while shouting things like, “There is no courage without fear,” a message that speaks directly to the heart of the story.
-- James Herbert, whose editing skills on Edge of Tomorrow are pretty brilliant. Editing is so important on a movie like this because you need to keep moving the story along without making it feel repetitious in any way, and Herbert does just that. There’s real purpose behind every scene we see more than once, especially the massive battle on the beach, which Herbert—and, by extension, director Doug Liman—expertly tinker with so that we never see the same version, even though we revisit the beach battle several times throughout.
MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB: