Last Thursday, Pip and I went to see Edge of Tomorrow, currently playing in theatres. This is the latest summer blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise in what may are calling a sci-fi spin on Groundhog Day. One look at the trailer might make you think that, but there’s also some influences of Starship Troopers, Aliens, and even a nod to D-Day.
Yes, the Allies’ Invasion of Normandy. In a Tom Cruise summer science fiction blockbuster.
Edge of Tomorrow, based off the novel and manga, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, follows Public Relations officer Major William Cage. Tom Cruise’s Cage is the Tom Cruise we know very well—very polished, brilliant smile, and slick in his approach and handling of situations thrown at him. He’s the “face” of the war against Mimics, alien invaders who seem to have an uncanny ability to predict exactly what the United European Forces unleash on the battlefield. This Tom Cruise graces the movie with its presence…
…for about ten minutes.
Much like Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Cruise’s Major Cage is suddenly thrown a curve that lands him in the middle of battle, something his Public Relations job allows him to avoid. After finding himself on the wrong end of a taser, he wakes up at Heathrow Airport, the training camp for the United European Armed Forces. Strapped into an exo-suit, Cage joins J Company in a massive amphibious landing happening on the western coast of France. Led by the inspiring “Full Metal Bitch” Rita Vrataski (played by Emily Blunt), Cage stumbles through the battle only to find himself out of ammo and facing a Mimic up close and personal. The monster leaps on top of him, but (more out of futility and desperation than heroism) Cage takes the alien (and himself) out of commission with a landmine sandwiched between them…
…and that’s when Cage wakes up with a start. At Heathrow Airport. After finding himself on the wrong end of a taser.
Edge of Tomorrow is visually stunning. The opening beachhead sequence is not only chilling but flat-out terrifying, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan with exo-suits and aliens in the mix. (A little bit of trivia: Edge of Tomorrow premiered on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Very fitting.) While the film could have easily fallen into the Groundhog Day trap or even easier into the macho action flick trope, Edge of Tomorrow manages the trappings of a time loop plot while still addressing all possibilities including the “Okay, what if he doesn’t try at all!” scenario. With Emily Blunt playing a terrific foil to Cruise and wonderful visuals (and points for practical special effects as those exo-suits are absolutely badass), Edge of Tomorrow is destined to be the Pacific Rim of this summer’s offerings…
…and that’s a real shame.
You see, Edge of Tomorrow is not performing well, its performance dwarfed against The Fault in Our Stars and How to Train Your Dragon 2. There is a possibility that it may have a slow burn, and word-of-mouth may keep this edgy, beautiful science fiction film in the box office. What concerns me are the amount of people who are sitting out this film for the wrong reason: Tom Cruise. How did I reach this conclusion? It was when I told people online and in real life that Pip and I had plans to see the film. I was stunned at how many people, within a two hour period, referred to Cruise as “the couch jumper” and refused to support this film.
You know, “Crazy Tom Cruise” who lost his mind on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show when he was on a promotional tour for War of the Worlds? You know, the movie Cruise did in 2005? Nearly a decade ago.
Now read this article from LA Weekly—especially Page 5. I’m astounded that while creative minds with dubious pasts like Woody Allen, Roman Pulanski, and Marion Zimmer Bradley are given a pass out of their “genius” but jump on a couch (which, if you read that LA Weekly article, didn’t quite happen as reported) and your career is marred for life.
I’ll admit that Cruise made a terrible mistake in making his sister his publicist, in trying to present himself as a medical expert concerning postpartum depression, in allowing himself to become a poster boy for Scientology, and in hamming it up and pandering to both the traditional and online media; but does that make him a bad actor? He’s had his fair share of duds at the box office, sure, but the Cruise we see in Edge of Tomorrow reminds me more of the Cruise we got in films like Born of the Fourth of July, Collateral, and Tropic Thunder. This is where we see Tom Cruise as an actor, either playing against type or stretching out of comfort zones. As it was mentioned on my Facebook feed, this is a great film for people who don’t like Tom Cruise (either the actor or the person) as you see him die repeatedly in the film, and in some instances in completely ridiculous ways. Even Cruise himself admits during the downtime between shots, they concocted different ways for him to die. That’s dedication.
You may be thinking I’m defending Tom Cruise; but last time I checked, Cruise does not need defending. He’s making a more-than-solid living as an actor, and from the look of things, he’s got worked lined up for the next few years. This is more of a defense for Edge of Tomorrow.
I hear so many in my social and online circles complain about the lack of original ideas from Hollywood (and speaking of lack of original ideas and Tom Cruise—seriously, man, you’re better than this…) and how we’re getting remakes, reboots, and sequels we don’t want (see previous link) when there’s a lot of original stories out there just itching to be turned into motion pictures. Last summer, we got one: Pacific Rim. This epic popcorn film of science fiction awesome was outperformed by Grown Up’s 2 and Despicable Me 2. (Let that soak in for a moment.) From where I sat (in the theatre because giant freaking robots!), people seemed to skip Pacific Rim for all the wrong reasons. Mainstream audiences couldn’t get into the idea of giant robots facing giant monsters. Some in my geek circles refused to see it because they considered it a rip-off of their favorite anime, even with director del Toro admitting Pacific Rim was his homage to anime and Japanese creature features. Still, with so many summer movies that are recycled to the point that they are greener than our EVs, it was pretty cool to have something different.
Edge of Tomorrow brings to the box office something so rarely seen in the summer—something unique. Even with playing the Groundhog Day card, this movie should be given an honest shot (pardon the pun) as it isn’t another remake or reboot. The script is not only sharp and intelligent, it also plays up a sinister sense-of-humor running in the background. If you still have issues concerning Cruise, consider Emily Blunt who rocks the ex-suit or that this film is from the same people behind the original Bourne Identity and Mr & Mrs Smith. Edge of Tomorrow has got a lot going for it and is well worth your time.
And if you are still on the fence after all that, rest assured—no couches were harmed in the making of this film.