Edge of Tomorrow
We have been in the summer movie desert–post-Maleficent and pre-Lucy. The options on my silver screen right now include Transformers: Riding Dinosaurs, Purge: Killing People and Sex Tape: Probably Kinda Funny But Meh. (okay, I did see 22 Jump Street and I liked it because Channing Tatum is hilarious. I also want to see Hercules but we all know it is going to suck. I just like The Rock a lot.)
My suggestion? Don’t go to the movies right now. Go back in time a month and see Edge of Tomorrow. I don’t know if this movie got buried or what, but I didn’t see a lot of people talking about it–even people who normally like SciFi. It got a lot of critical appreciation, but it didn’t make as much money as a Tom Cruise SciFi epic should have. Especially since this one was actually good (cough Oblivion cough).
Edge of Tomorrow is a story about a man who is caught in a Groundhog Day loop. Every time he dies, he comes back to the same point in time. He’s in the middle of an alien invasion, and it looks bleak for humanity when his looping begins. His hope for changing his fate and the fate of humanity lies with Emily Blunt’s character–a woman who the media has cast as an unexpected superhero and all around bad ass. Turns out, she was looping as well, and her badassery came from repeating the same time frame until she lost the ability to come back. She, therefore, is the strong character who is already experienced and battle-tested. She is constantly outdoing Cruise’s cowardly “PR man” character, and therefore constantly shooting him in the head to reset and try again. Watching her roll her eyes and kill him repeatedly is pretty much worth the price of admission.
The movie gives an “alien magic” description of why the looping occurs, but that’s fine. One of the things I like best about this movie is that it doesn’t focus on the details much. You don’t need to know exactly how the aliens work or why they’re on Earth to enjoy the story of a person trying to better himself by dying over and over again. Edge of Tomorrow is witty without being ridiculous (never a missed opportunity to show Cruise dying in unexpected ways) and entertaining without making the audience work too hard. There are aliens and explosions and Cruise’s giant biceps. I like that there’s no real love story.
For most of the movie, Blunt is annoyed by Cruise. She’s SO GOOD in this–you want to be her and since you can’t you want to be like her. I, too, want to be world-weary and taking no shit from some whiny little PR man who is unfortunately humanity’s only hope. She’s so expressive, and so unimpressed by Cruise, she’s a pleasure to behold. Also, she’s not oversexualized. In fact, the movie takes care to point out that strong women are seen as bitchy and overbearing.
While this movie does not pass Bechdel, the women who are in it are fully drawn and interesting. No sexy lamps here. It’s also really fun to watch Cruise’s character grow from an insufferable asshole to a somewhat likable action hero. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit this–I’m a Tom Cruise fan. I like his acting. He’s good at what he does, which is being supernaturally good looking and saving the world from various evils. I know all the things about him, but I think he’s one of the better action movie stars out there. What can I say, his work trumps his weird-ass personal life for me. (Except for the scene in Rock of Ages where he’s trying to act like he wants to have sex with someone. That doesn’t really work for him. He just looks confused.)
In all, this movie is absolutely worth your time. It’s a funny, energetic romp through time and space without being overly complex. It’s a good couple of hours with a bucket of popcorn and a movie buddy. In short–it’s the perfect summer movie. Go forth and enjoy.
(image from Edge of Tomorrow, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures)