I fully intended to watch Edge of Tomorrow when it came out last year, but somehow never quite made it to the theater. Thankfully, Netflix has allowed me to correct this oversight.
There were a few problems here or there, but overall I had a pretty good time watching this.
Minor SPOILERS for things that happen in the first ten minutes of the movie. These things really shouldn’t ruin the film for you, but I am going to detail how our hero ends up in battle in the first place. If you don’t want to know that, best skip over Note 2 entirely.
Aliens attack! Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) dies in battle and starts reliving the same day, Bill Murray style. When he eventually teams up with the best soldier in the fleet, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage realizes that this ability is humanity’s only chance to win the war.
1. We should probably just address the whitewashing up front. Edge of Tomorrow is based off the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill, and the main character is not a white American. This is undeniably lame. Stronger adjectives are probably required, but I’m too tired to come up with a more eloquent or persuasive argument than y’all suck and I’m sick of your bullshit, so. Here we are.
2. We will now discuss our very, very white cast.
It’s fairly fashionable to hate Tom Cruise these days, but I like plenty of his movies, and I think he does a pretty decent job here. Actually, if you don’t like Tom Cruise, this might be the movie for you because you get to see his character get beat up and/or killed a lot.
It’s interesting. At the beginning of the movie, William Cage is kind of an unlikable schmuck, and yet I feel sorta bad for him. See, Cage isn’t really much of a solider. He’s got an officer’s rank, but he’s actually a PR guy. Only General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) decides to send him to the front lines anyway, to better sell the war. (I’m not entirely convinced that footage from the front lines is a particularly great recruitment method, but I suppose it’s not my area of expertise.)
Cage is wildly unenthusiastic about such a prospect and, yes, makes some deeply poor strategic decisions on how he tries to wiggle his way out of it. Still, the guy is arrested, knocked out, slandered, treated as a deserter, and sent to die. I feel like my reaction is supposed to be something like “ha ha, look who got what was coming to him,” but this seems like ridiculously harsh punishment for being a cowardly putz.
And while we’re on the subject . . . I think cowardice sometimes gets a bad rap in action and war movies. Like I’m supposed to shake my head in disgust at the thought of a man trying to get out of combat duty, when in actuality I would probably do the exact same thing in his position. (Well, not the exact same. I’d like to think I can read people a little better than Cage can.) If Cage had, I don’t know, switched his dog tags or something, intentionally putting someone else in danger so he could be safe, then I could get behind this whole “just desserts” thing. As is, I don’t feel like there’s any particular shame for jumping onto a PR job that keeps you out of the field. Bravery is respectable and deserves to be honored accordingly, but I’m just not convinced that Cage deserves what he got here.
3. Well, that went off-topic fast. Let’s get back to the cast.
Emily Blunt’s pretty awesome. She was actually the main reason I wanted to see this movie in the first place — I watched her in the trailers and was like, Yes. YES. More of THIS, please. I really like that her tiny bit of emotional backstory is basically just one scene, and she never ends up crying in the shower or weeping into Tom Cruise’s arms or something. (It’s not that you can’t be a badass and cry at the same time. That’s absolutely possible — one of the most recent examples I can think of is Agent Carter. Peggy cries in the first or second episode but is still the biggest badass EVER. Still, it would have been wildly out of character for Rita Vrataski in this story.)
I do have one problem with Rita’s character, but unfortunately I cannot tell you about it now. It will be revealed to you at the proper time. (Man, I haven’t seen Spaceballs in a while. I should watch that again.)
Master Sergeant Farell
Oh, how I adore Bill Paxton. Really, I just love this guy. His character isn’t particularly well-developed or anything, but Paxton just brings such energy and zeal to whatever he does that his character shines regardless. I honestly don’t have a problem with Tom Cruise as an actor (his inclusion neither increases nor decreases my interest in any given project) but anytime these two are on screen together, Paxton inevitably steals the scene.
Brendan Gleeson doesn’t have very much to do here — you know, he’s gruff and he gives absolutely zero fucks about Cage — but he’s still Brendan Gleeson, so, yeah. It works for me. (Also, he gets to keep his natural accent for the role! Yay!)
4. The action is all pretty great in this movie. I’m afraid I have no real technical notes on that score — the battle scenes are just awesome and a lot of fun to watch. I regret not seeing Edge of Tomorrow in theater because I bet it would have looked fantastic on the big screen.
5. I also really like that the story isn’t afraid to jump forward occasionally, that we don’t always need to see the first time Cage encounters something new. Everyone likes a Groundhog Day premise, but one of the problems inherit in the setup is that it doesn’t take much for the story to get a little too repetitive for the audience. You hear the same dialogue or see the same shot one too many times, and it’s just like, Come on, come ON, I get it already. Let’s just skip this part, okay?
But Edge of Tomorrow makes some pretty clever choices in terms of structure and storytelling, I think. It likes to leap forward when you don’t always expect it, which makes for a more exciting watch.
6. The title is still stupid, though. Let’s just make that clear. All You Need is Kill is an unusual title and fairly striking because of it. Edge of Tomorrow, on the other hand, is generic bullshit. Amusingly, whoever makes these decisions came to the exact same conclusion, but only after the movie underperformed at the box office. Their solution? Write “Edge of Tomorrow” in teeny-tiny letters on the bottom of the Blu-Ray/DVD with the words “Live Die Repeat” in GIANT letters so that you’re fooled into thinking the tagline is the title. While Live Die Repeat would, in fact, be a better name than Edge of Tomorrow — cause really, almost anything would — it’s still not the actual title. Stop lying to me, marketing team!
7. Finally, I don’t hate the ending exactly, but it does feel like a bit of a cop-out to me. If you’d like to know why . . .
. . . then you have to hold on an additional minute.
I’m not going to go over everything that happens in this movie, but I do want to briefly discuss a few things, like the fact that Edge of Tomorrow is an early contender for Best Death of 2015.
Cage has to sneak away from his squad to meet up with Rita, but that’s easier said than done when you’ve got Master Sergeant Bill Paxton watching your every move. Cage finds his chance when a jeep drives by as he’s doing pushups; daringly, he rolls under the car like any proper action hero would and dashes off. Only because he’s emphatically not a proper action hero yet, he does it wrong and rolls right under the tires. Laughed my ass off.
Also LMAO: the moment when Cage is injured saving Rita’s life on the battlefield, and she thanks him by stealing the battery in his suit and leaving him to die. LOVED IT.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t so crazy about the ending of this movie, though, starting with the moment when Rita decides to lock lips with Cage.
I don’t mind a small amount of romantic subtext between the two characters, I suppose, but the kiss felt artificial and unnecessary, particularly because Rita is the one who kisses him. It would make much more sense if Cage kissed her, considering he’s known for her approximately a bazillion days. Rita, meanwhile, has only known him for about 24 hours, and I know these are like potentially End Times and all, but I just didn’t buy it from her character. According to IMDb trivia, the kiss was an improv on Emily Blunt’s part, and sometimes, improvs are great, but I wish they had cut this one. Because, to me, that kiss felt like a forced love story on a movie that didn’t at all require one.
As far as the rest of the ending goes, well. Rita dies. The J-Squad dies. (The J-Squad always dies. They are the ultimate redshirts.) And Cage destroys the Omega and gets bathed in its blood again as he dies, so this time he wakes up hours earlier than normal and discovers that all the Mimic activity has stopped after a power surge in Paris. Because of this, Cage never gets arrested. He goes to meet Rita, this time as a major. Awesomely, she appears to be unimpressed with him no matter what rank he is. He laughs, and the movie ends.
Admittedly, the whole setup of the story is a little screwy — I have some trouble taking a blood transfusion as the cure for Alien Groundhog’s Day Disease seriously — but the ending really does feel like a bit of a cheat. Jumping to an earlier time and allowing everyone to live seems awfully convenient. Mind you, I don’t know that I wanted every character to die, but this feels just a little too Happily Ever After for my taste. Too bad, too, because otherwise this is a pretty enjoyable SF movie.
Rita: “Why does it matter what happens to me?”
Cage: “I wish I didn’t know you, but I do.”
Cage: “Wait a second, wait a second! I’ve been thinking . . . I mean, this thing is in my blood. So maybe there’s some way I can transfer it to you.”
Rita: “I’ve tried everything. It doesn’t work.”
Cage: “I mean, have you tried . . . you know . . . ALL the options?”
Rita: “Oh, you mean sex? Yeah, I tried it.”
Cage: “. . . how many times?”
Rita: “All right.”
(Rita hits Cage with a giant robot)
Cage: “Listen, man, I’ve never been in one of these things.”
Griff: “Yeah, well, I’ve never been with two girls at the same time before. But you can bet, when that day comes, I’ll make it work.”
Cage: “Master Sergeant Farrell, you’re an American.”
Farrell: “No, sir! I’m from Kentucky.”
Dr. Carter: “Have you seen anything strange?”
Cage: “Is he shitting me?”
Rita: “Ten minutes.”
Rita: “And then I’m killing you.”
The ending is something of a letdown and I still kind of hate The Kiss, but none of that ruins the film for me. I’d definitely watch it again — I just don’t know that I’d ever need to own it. (Oh, and because I forgot to mention it before — I wish they hadn’t revealed Rita’s own stint with turning back time in the promos. On one hand, those promos did their job and made me more interested in the film. On the other hand, that would have been a really neat surprise to see in the movie itself.)
Death is only the end if you don’t have the foresight to bathe in alien goop first.