Well, it's officially June, which means that the summer blockbusters are well on their way. With the pre-summer flicks already released, it's time to see what the studios have up their sleeves for the season in 2014. Warner Bros. will be releasing their rather highly marketed sci-fi/action picture Edge of Tomorrow, which is actually based upon a Japanese novel written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. With Tom Cruise being put front and center, audiences will believe that they have this one all figured out before even walking into the cinema. However, this is a misconception that just might cause some viewers to miss out on a highly entertaining summer blockbuster feature that has more personality than most big-budgeted flicks can only dream of.
Taking a page from Groundhog Day, Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself caught in a time loop where he continues to relive a landmark battle with a powerful alien race. He soon meets a Special Forces warrior named Rita (Emily Blunt), who begins to teach him how to fight. Her training allows him to improve upon his skills, as he continues to spot the details in every moment of the battle that he will relive once again. Cage is humankind's only chance, otherwise the alien race will seize control over Earth.
Edge of Tomorrow could have easily turned into another cheesy action flick with unnecessary and inauthentic exposition. Fortunately, writers Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth understand that audiences grasp this Groundhog Day-esque concept rather well. In fact, it doesn't take very long for the protagonist to figure out what's going on, saving us from a huge amount of boredom. Rather, it surprisingly spends quite a bit of its time on Cage and Rita. While the fate of this relationship is obvious, it's all about the journey in this case. Cage truly gets to know Rita over this period of time, while Rita continues to be introduced to him for the first time each and every day, without any prior knowledge. This truly makes for an intriguing dynamic, as you can't help but root for this powerful duo. The fate of the world might rest on Cage's shoulders, but there are times when this relationship makes for even bigger stakes.
Keep in mind that this is still an action feature, and director Doug Liman's objective of keeping us entertained is clear. This experienced filmmaker utilized the editing process in order to provide a tight piece of storytelling that doesn't waste any time. He delivers on the goods that audiences will be heading to the cinemas to see. When Cage hits the battlefield, it feels quite similar to the stories we've heard of a war that we have fought once before, except this time, all of the human race is seen as the target. The mechanical suits worn by this army are quite exhilarating to watch in action, as they unload countless rounds of ammunition. The humans might not be able to move very fast in them, but they're surely able to leave a path of destruction. However, this is a war that calls for many casualties, many of which we see numerous times. What keeps this fresh is that each time, Cage tries to do something different. This creates a completely different timeline, leading to new material. While some of it might seem a bit repetitive in the first act, it doesn't remain that way for very long.
The writers might have had the opportunity to adapt a truly intriguing piece of subject matter, but that doesn't stop it from coming across as being slightly ridiculous. Fortunately, the filmmakers entirely realize this, and they wrote the screenplay accordingly. Edge of Tomorrow doesn't take itself too seriously, as a large portion of the picture is dedicated to displaying the picture's lighter side. Humor is most certainly an organic part of this feature's soul. While there aren't necessarily many jokes told, the majority of these scenes can best be described as situational comedy. Rita isn't afraid to put a bullet in Cage's head if that means resetting the day and starting fresh. Each time he wakes up at the beginning of the film, you can't help but chuckle. This tone primarily takes place through the second act, as it allows for a more fluid progression to the film's climax. None of the plot beats are very surprising, but the writers handle each of them rather well. The filmmakers understand what type of film this is, as they demonstrate an expertise in the art of creating a worthwhile summer blockbuster through and through.
Some viewers simply have difficulty connecting with specific actors on screen. Whether it's his or her delivery or their overall tone, some actors have difficulty connecting with the audience. I generally have this issue with Tom Cruise in the majority of his features, but he manages to successfully portray Cage. He feels quite authentic, as he brings a different side of himself to this motion picture. He delivers a lot of the humorous material rather well, as he truly gets the audience on his side for the remainder of the picture's duration. Emily Blunt is an excellent choice to partner with Cruise in the role of Rita. She has a sense of charisma that draws us in and never lets go. Regardless of the character that she's playing, Blunt has the ability to keep our eyes glued to the screen. This is ultimately an impressive combo of leads that allows for a truly entertaining moviegoing experience.
If you're a sci-fi/action fan, then director Doug Liman's visuals are sure to have you even more excited to venture into this world. Edge of Tomorrow has a rustic tone to it that makes for a rather intriguing color palette. Whether we're on the battlefield or having a deep conversation about the plan to save humanity, the film has a gritty appearance that fits rather well. The creature designs are decent enough, even if they aren't quite as menacing as one would hope. They move so incredibly quickly, all of the details put into these creatures are lost in the chaos. However, they most certainly make for truly attention-grabbing action sequences. Liman makes up for the creature designs with the incredible use of sound design. Every sound effect is heard in a crisp and loud fashion. The bass is appropriately loud and the aliens' movements allows for an outstanding use of surround sound. Edge of Tomorrow is most certainly a film to enjoy on the big screen.
There is an extremely small list of films that manage to successfully achieve what audiences are searching for in a summer blockbuster. While being entertained is a huge factor, it shouldn't result in the complete abandonment of character and personality. Director Liman and this group of writers leave a lot of room for humor and relationship dynamics. While still predictable, it accomplishes exactly what it set out to do. Running just under two hours long, this is a sci-fi/action flick that never outstays its welcome. If you're looking for a summer blockbuster to simply lose yourself in, then you've found it. Edge of Tomorrow will leave other summer blockbusters jealous of its action, humor, and consistent personality. Highly recommended!