Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

(M) Warner DVD/BD & Digital Download

Ground Hog Day, Source Code, War of the Worlds and Saving Private Ryan rolled into one film. Yet, it is a full-throttle, action-packed, thought provoking and original film.  

Walking into the cinema
It was hard to know what this film was about from the previews. Disaster film, alien invasion… love story? Going in with little or no expectations may have been a good thing. It left me hoping the story would be clear by the end.

The film
The challenge of writing a summary for Edge of Tomorrow has the potential for a multitude of spoilers. While it references films like Groundhog Day, Source Code and even, Saving Private Ryan, the concept of the film feels orginal and fresh.

Within moments of the opening, the narrative of Edge of Tomorrow unfolds through the lens of worldwide news footage. A meteor has landed on earth and an alien invasion has begun. Throughout the opening footage we are introduced to newscasters, military leaders and our protagonist — Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) — who is a key figure in the promotion of a new weapon that assists in the defence against this alien force, known as Mimics.

Cruise’ Cage is a flawed character, finding himself in a difficult situation at the front line of the battle that they seemingly cannot win. It is disarming to see him in this type of role, but it is refreshing to see him playing a vulnerable character. Through his awkward introduction to infantry life he is confronted with the alien invaders and, with a nod to the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, Cage dies. Now, before you are upset about a potential spoiler, understand that after dying he is instantly taken back to the memorable opening scene where he is introduced to Master Sargent Farrell (played brilliantly by Bill Paxton) and to his company, J Squad. As the tagline suggests, live, die, repeat is the primary hook of the film, a Groundhog Day experience for both the audience and Cage. The rest of the film takes us through his memorable attempts to learn and motivate the people around him to find a way to defeat the alien invaders.

Doug Limon (Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) directs this well-crafted character-driven, action film. There is a clever balance of battle scenes and intrigue as the central characters attempt to take back Europe from the alien hordes.

The action sequences pay homage to this generation’s gaming world, but recall the stark world and style reminiscent of films like District 9. Even with the hyper-action sequences, the value of the direction comes with the character development of Cage and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). Blunt has a strength on screen that surpasses her actual physical stature. She has a commanding presence as the poster child of the military effort against the Mimics. The chemistry between Cruise and Blunt is electrifying without having to develop unnecessary sexual tension. There is just enough romance to appeal to any audience, but it doesn’t distract from the primary storyline.

Cruise and Blunt are surrounded by an engaging support cast that adds to the intensity (and often confusion) of the situation that Cage finds himself, but allows for a levity that is needed to move the story along.

Brendan Gleeson’s (Calvary) turn as General Bringham was a touch of inspired casting, his military steel and arrogance gives the story the needed gravitas and moral tension. The plot moves along at a rapid, but manageable pace, which leaves you wanting more at the end.

Due to the multiple references to other films, it may leave the reader with the idea that this is an unoriginal film. This is not the case with Edge of Tomorrow, it stands on its own as an original and entertaining film. One of the pleasant twists to this genre is the film’s setting: It is not centred on a city within the United States and it includes an appealing mix of international characters.

Honestly, haven’t we seen the White House destroyed or attacked enough in recent films?

Limon’s film is not perfect however, primarily due to the rush to its conclusion. Even with the convoluted original premise, the story is held together well, but the eventual conclusion comes so fast it stretches the believability of the film. Yet, the finish does not diminish the value of this film. Another minor story issue is the cities of supposed population density prior to the invasion seem to be missing people. Limon does not explain how the aliens completely eliminate all forms of humanity in their wake. These are minor story challenges, but they do not take away from the film.

This character-driven, action film is a refreshing choice in this sequel laden year of cinema.

Leaving the cinema…
This would qualify as one of the better films of the year, even though it is only June. It had all of the components of a good film: action, character development and an original story. I enjoyed the characters and the only complaint was this film was too short. It left me wanting more… but Mr Limon, please do not make a sequel, let this film stand on its own merits

Family value
Edge of Tomorrow is a mixed bag for family viewing. Due to the the war-time violence and suicide-like acts, this is not a film for younger viewers. Yet the themes in this film open the door to some deeper conversations on death, resurrection, God (Alpha & Omega), wisdom and courage. I would recommend this film for adults to see as good entertainment, but I would challenge the viewer to consider some of the bigger questions this film presents.

Bigger questions
1. What is it about death that we should consider and should we fear it? (Romans 5:17, John 14:6)
2. What is the difference between reincarnation and resurrection? (Acts 2:31-33)
3. Who is the Alpha and Omega and what does it mean? (Revelation 1)

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum, and is a regular blogger. You can read his reviews at  russellingreveiws.blogspot.com.au


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