What I’m about to tell you is gonna sound crazy. Edge of Tomorrow is a pedantic sci-fi action movie that’s about as shallow as the trailer used to advertise it. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already pretty much seen the movie. Some others have described it as “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers”, but fails to be as entertaining as either of those. Warning: I’m going to mention plot spoilers in the rest of the review because, frankly, there really isn’t much to spoil. But for those who want to see the film you may want to skip the rest of my review.
There’s something inherently entertaining about watching someone relive a day over and over, and that’s the best part of “Edge”. The movie was released on the 70th anniversary of D-Day which is fitting, since the crux of the film surrounds the United Defense Forces launching a massive invasion of France to attack the “Mimics”. I wasn’t sure why they’re called mimics, since they don’t appear to mimic anything other than having a vague resemblance to the Sentinels from The Matrix.
Major William Cage (Cruise) is sort of a cowardly jerk “career” soldier who has thus far avoided combat since the Mimics landed, acting as military PR. When he’s ordered to be part of the first wave of the attack on France as a war correspondent, he goes to great lengths to convince the General (Brendan Gleeson) he’s not going. After insinuating an attempt at blackmail to avoid combat, the General has him arrested after being knocked out with a taser. Cage then wakes up on the tarmac of the invasion fleet in England, handcuffed and stripped of any indication of being an officer or ranking anything higher than a private. From there, he is unceremoniously forced into a combat unit full of riff raff (J Squad) and sent in with the first wave.
Cage is so green that none of his squadmates care to help him and in his first landing in France, he can’t even figure out how to take the safety off his weapon. He gets lucky enough to survive and, lying among all the dead bodies, happens to find himself in the presence of Mimics who eventually attack and kill him. Here’s the plot twist: there is a blue Mimic which is called an “Alpha” that attacks Cage, who happens to detonate a bomb that kills the Mimic and splatters its blood all over him (when Cage also dies in the blast). After Cage dies he wakes up back on the tarmac, handcuffed. Stunned, he experiences the day all over again. He meets the same people. Has the same conversations. Gets sent to the front lines. Dies. Repeats. Cue tagline for film.
Cage attempts all sorts of things to explain his situation to others, forewarning them of things impossible for him to know, yet they all just think he’s nuts and he always gets sent into the first wave attack. This portion of the film is entertaining as we watch Cage relive the same day and try to change the outcome each time. He eventually makes contact with Sgt. Rita Virataski (Emily Blunt) on the battlefield, who is called the “Angel of Verdun” for having been the hero of the first and only battle won against the Mimics. She dies during the first wave attack as well, until Cage gets so knowledgeable of the battle that he’s able to save Rita in amazing fashion. When she recognizes his special ability, she tells him to “find me when you wake up”.
From that point, Cage’s efforts are focused exclusively on finding her and explaining his situation. When he does, Rita then explains to Cage that she too had the same “power” as Cage during the Battle of Verdun, allowing her to defeat her enemies, yet she eventually lost it. The Alpha Mimic is the Mimics’ way of ensuring they will never lose a war. Whenever one is killed, the Mimic’s “reset” the day and learn from the experience. This is how they know of the UDF’s huge invasion plans of France and slaughter them.
Rita trains Cage over and over in combat skills until he’s an expert in his “powered suit”, capable of taking multiple Mimic’s on by himself. The power suit itself is an interesting concept, but I couldn’t help but watch and wonder how these things were supposed to help when everyone can barely walk in them. The beach invasion looks like D-Day in slow motion as soldiers in 100 pound metal suits clamor up wet sand. When Cage becomes super awesome with the suit, you eventually see its full capabilities, giving him extra speed and strength along with some heavy weaponry.
In the end, though, it’s a fairly shallow sci-fi experience. Some of the plot elements are too conveniently placed to be believable. The Mimics, for example, have taken over the entirety of Europe. Yet, they place what is considered their “central nervous system” (Ie, the “brain” that controls every Mimic on the planet) in France under the Louvre. I’m not the smartest alien, but that’s equivalent to Hitler moving the Eagle’s Nest there in 1944. Of course, placing it there is highly convenient since it allows our hero Cage and his band of misfits to sneak off at night in a transport, fly unopposed into France (until right near the Louvre, when the Mimics decide to fight) and crash nearby. I guess a loud transport aircraft cruising over France would not be noticed by the Mimics, who maybe sleep deep underground at night?
When Cage destroys this Mimic “brain”, every single Mimic dies in the world and the war is won.
To be fair, Cruise is in good form here and so is Emily Blunt although her character is very shallow and is only there to help move the story along for Cruise. That’s not to say Cage is a complex character either, but at least we see his character change from a clueless douche to a hardened soldier.
There is little originality in “Edge” if you’re looking for a sci-fi film to push boundaries or make you think after you’re done watching. There’s plenty of other time-travel/time bending films that will give your mind a better run for its money. If you want some popcorn entertainment you’ll get it out of “Edge”, but I’d recommend you just wait to watch it on Netflix or HBO later this year.