Edge of Tomorrow
by John Seedhouse
About 2 weeks ago I sat down with Mrs L and watched “The Guard“, a great slab of black humour, starring Brendan Gleeson whose character was belligerent, bordering on downright arsey, and insubordinate. I liked him. In Edge of Tomorrow Gleeson plays a similar cantankerous role – General Brigham. His attitude towards Major Cage (Tom Cruise) is much the same as my view of Cruise as a star turn.
I’m not a massive fan of Tom Cruise. I don’t really know what he has done to offend me but in general he irks me. It is irrational. I do for example appreciate his Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. We saw the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow a while back and pretty much wrote it off at that point. We joked that there must have been a pitch meeting where a harassed exec must have thrown out a number of words that may have included; Groundhog Day, D-Day, DMT, Halo… The casting of Emily Blunt may have been down to a misinterpreted piece of cockney rhyming slang in that very meeting. Suffice to say that we were not overly excited by the concept, stars or sitting down for 90 odd minutes.
Like Grossman, Cage is an obnoxious character and it is pleasing to watch his fall from bullishness as he is sent hurtling into imminent death on the battlefield. He is a coward and man of elevated self-importance. His reduction to being a cog in a larger war machine sets us up for a redemption story which could be excruciatingly trite were it not for a clever edit script and story concept.
Cruise wants to run up the beach to his death about as much as we had been enthusiastic about the film. We sustained our resolve with a plate of curried goat, rice and peas from the Caribbean Food Festival taking place in town. Major Cage has to make do with the motivational boot up the jacksie from Bill Paxton as a (marginally) unhinged drill-sergeant. Paxton is, as ever, a joy to watch and his ability to play a recurring scene with evolving reactions to Cage’s character shift provides a clever counter-point to the scenes of carnage that inevitably follow.
By the 20 minute mark both on-screen and off-screen we were all resolved to make a good fit of our circumstances…
Director Doug Liman does action well. He does action narrative well too. The Bourne Identity is one of my all time top 10 movies. Here he takes what could be a massive disappointment and cuts together a finely paced story. Despite the studio requirement to have Cruise’s face up in every shot he manages to create a genuine feeling of frustration in his characters’ actions in the first 2 reels. Every reset/cheat frustrates and assuages the viewer. In the computer games world we are used to the fall-back of being able to go back to a previous save when we screw up and whilst this option should destroy the tension in the film Liman manages to wind it around Cage’s redemption. By the halfway mark even I was warming to the character. Like with Bourne the audience feels that it is the situation around the lead character rather than the actions of the character that are driving our desire to watch. There is a strong supporting cast including Jonas Armstrong and Tony Way. Emily Blunt impresses as the hardass, Full Metal Bitch, Rita. It was reassuring to see her choose to shoot Cruise in the head rather than kiss him.
The 3-D is good. It isn’t essential but there is a lot to be said to being able to appreciate the beach scenes on a big screen. The aliens are possibly too whirling dervish like to carry much of a shock value but then that is not really the point of them here. It is the over-whelming fear of doomed humanity that is the scary element.
It’s probably a bit of a shame that Tom Cruise can pretty much kill a movie before it leaves the blocks as Edge Of Tomorrow is a good piece of diversion. It’s actually better than good. It doesn’t surpass the all-time best screwing with time movie, that has to remain as Donnie Darko, and it could probably do without the Groundhog Day close but it does a good job of being worth seeing on the big screen rather than the 40ins in the living room.
We had unwittingly chosen to see this on 6th June. It added a certain something to the mood.
Overall verdict: 4 Dumplings and a decent splash of hot sauce.
We saw Edge of Tomorrow courtesy of the nice folk at The Giant Screen in Millennium Point. In the interests of impartiality they also gave us a small Diet Pepsi. This has no impact on our view of the film, but they do have comfy chairs.
John wrote this review untold numbers of times. Initially it was very bad but luckily Mrs L was on hand to shoot him in the head til he got it right. John has 6 numbers for the lottery. They are all wrong. You can find him elsewhere on-line here, here and here.