There are two related questions that Edge of Tomorrow wants you to consider: 1) What if you couldn’t die? 2) What would you do if you could live this day over and over again? Several movies have explored these questions before under different circumstances – Groundhog Day and Source Code among them. It’s almost two sides of the same coin. If you had to live today over and over again, that would mean you couldn’t actually die? However, what could you do with that knowledge? Director Doug Liman uses this dilemma to create a rollercoaster look at how a war can turn on a single fighter – even if that fighter doesn’t know he matters until it’s almost too late.
The reasons Cage (Tom Cruise) repeats his days are relatively complicated but fairly well explained in the film. Suffice it to say, menacing aliens have attacked Earth that can manipulate time and somehow Cage has gotten control of this power. By utilizing this ability, Cage could turn the tide of the war – if he wasn’t a coward or a particularly good soldier. Fortunately, he quickly realizes he must rely on the guidance of superstar warrior Rita (Emily Blunt). Rita once had the same power to relive her day and influence its outcome, and used it to win a key victory in the war, but eventually lost the power. Working together they must do the best they can to survive the alien onslaught.
None of the above are spoilers – I promise. Edge of Tomorrow is at its strongest when it makes use of comedy to explore the many ways a person can screw things up before truly figuring out what’s actually important. Cruise has rarely succeeded as a comedian, and this isn’t that kind of movie (thankfully), but it’s in watching him get physically abused repeatedly that we start to actually feel bad for him and hope that he’ll succeed. He uses his frequent deaths to actually grow and improve as a human being – answering at least one of the questions above that if you have today to live forever, you’d better try to get it right.
There’s the whole world at stake in the film, but sadly, we don’t really care, and it doesn’t really matter. What we really want to know more about are the aliens and controlling time. Thankfully, we have Rita to keep us engaged with the film. Blunt oozes charisma all on her own, and figuring out her backstory is worth the price of admission. Cruise is doing a good job – as a near antihero who has to work around his own cowardice and inexperience. Their chemistry doesn’t really deliver, but it’s a minor issue in the overall plot.
The look of the aliens, and overall CGI, are really good. I didn’t see this in 3D, but I bet it would be really impressive given that the guns and armored suits are badass in regular old 2D. The technology is futuristic and fun without being overly complicated or completely defying science. As light afternoon entertainment, I’d completely recommend this film. As a high quality, important work…not so much. Regardless, there is definitely a lot of fun, along the lines of Independence Day, to be had with the film. Plus, you can never go wrong with a film that features a strong and badass female character like Rita.