Spoilers, of course.
So Edge of Tomorrow is the latest in the line of recent Tom Cruise sci-fi ventures, and it is a marked improvement over 2013’s Oblivion. Where Oblivion was (probably deliberately) a study in contrasts, with the too-good-to-be-true iTreehouse contrasting against the stark, make-do ramshackle reality of Morgan Freeman’s resistance movement, Edge of Tomorrow is anything but Apple-esque. Practically the entire film is made of sudden cuts meant to jar us with the sudden violence of warfare, and it works quite well when it doesn’t make one dizzy.
Basic plot: Tom Cruise is a Major in the US military’s media division during an alien invasion and occupation of Continental Europe. He is sent to England and put under the command of General Brendan Gleeson, who wants him to film propaganda on the front lines of the upcoming “Operation Totally Gonna Work” assault on mainland France. He, unprofessionally, refuses, and attempts to blackmail Gleeson with his bully pulpit, only to be arrested, busted down to private, and sent into battle. He stumbles around, manages to kill an Alpha (the aliens are like the Bugs from Starship Troopers, with a brain bug (the Omega) and a lot of drone bugs; the Alpha is like the lieutenant, and when it dies the Omega resets time by a couple of days and tries again). Cruise gets the Alpha’s blood in him (which…somehow goes back in time with him?) and gains the ability to reset time himself. He teams up with Emily Blunt, who gained fame as a war hero by using her own experiences as a looper (before a blood transfusion cleared out the…time…blood?) to gain knowledge and experience. They train together, hunt down the Omega, and blow it to bits. Cruise gets some more blood in his grievous wounds, resets time once more, and wakes up at the beginning of the movie, only now the Omega has already (mysteriously) exploded.
That’s really my only problem with the story. It’s a pretty silly time-loop story, and its original description to me as “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers” is pretty spot-on. I can even buy the stupid blood thing. But it’s that last reset I don’t understand.
Those who know me will know that I love time travel stories as long as they make some goddamn sense, which rules out both Looper and the anime Buddy Complex (which might one day get a write-up here, assuming I can choke down my absolute fury for an hour. Suffice it to say that you can’t break an established Novikovian time loop, even by pulling the power of friendship out of your ass). Along those lines, Edge of Tomorrow is fine…except for the end. If Tom Cruise had gained the magic time blood and reset time, and then gone to the general (this is back before he got busted down, remember, unlike his other loops where he wakes up just after that happens) and pointed to a map and said “nuke this right here”, I could maybe buy it, the chain of command and verification of orders notwithstanding. Even keeping the book’s original ending (the two main characters have to fight to the death to end the loops) might have worked with a little tweaking, or just leave them dead and have a bittersweet ending. The best I can come up with is that the Omega went back in time too, maybe because Cruise now has more deliberate command of the power instead of just piggybacking, and since it was already exploding it…kept exploding, even before Cruise woke up at the beginning…of…the movie…
Okay, so it’s not perfect, but it’s not anywhere near bad. It’s a lot of fun, and the plot hits all the right points. I even chuckled a few times. Overall, pretty solid B+. I just wish they’d paid a little more attention. For my part, I’m going to blame focus groups.