Edge of Tomorrow (2014) — Fighting a time loop war

“Come find me when you wake up!”

Justin’s rating: Justin’s rating: Justin’s rating:

Justin’s review: Is there anything new to be done with time loop movies? You’d always think not, but then filmmakers keep finding ways to keep the concept fresh. In regard to today’s review, I came into Edge of Tomorrow assuming that I knew how this would all go. It’s a time loop movie, but it’s set during a war, so it’s about the guy figuring out how to fight good enough to survive and win.

And while it is this, Edge of Tomorrow proved to exceed my assumptions by throwing in a lot of interesting twists and turns. It’s still kind of jumbled as I sit here and try to dissect it after the fact, but overall, I liked that it tried to give us a different take on time loops than we’ve seen in so many other films.

One small detail that I liked is that Tom Cruise as Major Cage begins the movie as somewhat of a dishonorable coward. He’s a military PR goon tasked with putting a good spin on a war raging across Europe between humanity and a bunch of tentacley aliens called the Mimics. Reassigned to cover a landing invasion, Cage tries like crazy to get out of it — and is strong-armed into a misfit unit that gets wiped out to the last person. Including Cage.

Except that Cage gets squirted with magical alien blood that gives him the ability to go back 24 hours or so every time he dies. Apparently (and this is a spoiler), the alien leader has been using time travel to outsmart humanity. Whenever the aliens lose a battle, the leader resets the day and they keep trying until they win. Rinse and repeat. But now Cage has this same ability, and he’s going to embark on a journey that takes him from cowardly deserter to steel-jawed savior of humanity.

He’s going to need some help with this, however. That assistance comes in the form of Sergeant Vrataski (played by the ever-amazing Emily Blunt), a hero who had her own time loop experience in a past battle. Vrataski trains Cage while the two of them try to figure out how to not just win a single battle but the entire war.

With so many neat concepts coming at the audience — including a day when the aliens take over London, which was terrifying — and a lot of natural charm and humor coming out of its characters, it’s hard to get bored with Edge of Tomorrow. Did I mention that Bill Paxton gets a hilarious turn as a scenery chewing master sergeant? He had me cracking up every time he came on screen to yank Cage around.

It’s not perfect. For one thing, the softer rating means that for a bloody war movie — there’s no blood. Most all of the deaths that Cage endures are implied, and the alien menace feels kind of toothless for it. For another thing, I’m just about done with movies that culminate in nonstop CGI action in the last third. It gets tiring and boring on the eyes, and I always tune out when we get to these parts. Superhero movies, I’m so looking at you right now. And while I’m picking nits, the exoskeleton suits that the troopers wear make everyone look like they’re struggling with some awkward cosplay getup. It’s not nearly as cool as the filmmakers wanted you to think.

But hey, thumbs up for this one. I hear there’s a sequel in the making. I just hope it’s not the same old, same old.

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