Wow – this was unexpected. The trailers had me believe that after ‘Battle L.A.’ and ‘Oblivion’ this would be yet another bleak, action- packed, special effects driven Sci-Fi blockbuster about an alien invasion – what the trailers failed to convey almost entirely is that over long stretches, this is also seasoned with nearly as much humor as ‘Groundhog Day’. That it would invite comparisons with the Harold Ramis/ Bill Murray classic was obvious, given the time loop premise, but I never expected to what extent those comparisons would actually be justified and that this film would really tap into a similar kind of comedy. Luckily, it is all the better for it.
Most unexpected of all, the main reason the comical aspects during the first half of the film work so well, is Tom Cruise’s character, Major William Cage. This is easily Cruise’s meatiest role since his turn in ‘Magnolia’ as Frank T.J. Mackey; forget his usual stern, poster boy heroes: here he plays an entirely different character – and he really seems to relish the opportunity. I won’t give away too much, but be prepared to chuckle and laugh when you see a new side of Tom Cruise.
Yet while this is not nearly as bleak as the trailers suggested, it certainly isn’t a comedy either. And it absolutely IS an action-packed, special effects driven Sci-Fi blockbuster about battling an alien invasion (the trailers got that right), albeit one with a funny bone and great characters. Speaking of which, the rest of the cast is also very good, especially the gorgeous Emily Blunt. It seems that no matter what she does, she always comes across as genuine and real; here she succeeds in portraying her character – a tough, seasoned soldier other soldiers refer to as “full metal bitch” (no kidding!) – with just the right touch of vulnerability to make her that much more believable. Bill Paxton and Brendon Gleeson are always a welcome addition to any movie, and while they are great (as usual), character-wise, they don’t do anything here that you haven’t seen them do before.
As for the Sci-Fi spectacle that the trailers promised, I’m glad to report that the film delivers. The battle scenes are beautifully orchestrated (not the Transformer-style blur where you can’t make out anything anymore), and there are moments when the intensity of the fighting recalls the landing on Omaha Beach in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ – without the gore, obviously (after all, this is PG-13). The design of the aliens – the production design in general – is incredibly well done, although I would lie if I said it was something ground-breaking and new the way the first ‘Matrix’ was (it IS breathtaking, though).
So my verdict: With one of the most inventive (adapted) scripts for an original (mega-budget) film in a long time and the best Tom Cruise we’ve seen in years, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ will have you chuckle and laugh nearly as much as drop your jaw in awe: this is what Hollywood should take as a blueprint for exciting summer entertainment henceforth. 9 stars out of 10.