Edge of Tomorrow review – satisfying sci-fi thriller

Edge of Tomorrow re-establishes Cruise as sci-fi force

The last two years, moviegoers have been treated to two amazing science fiction films — the Tom Cruise action epic Oblivion and the time-traveling Looper, which showed that there was still some original ideas floating around in Hollywood. Like those modern cinematic gems, Edge of Tomorrow proves a summer blockbuster doesn’t have to be based on a mainstream comic book or a sequel to be just as exciting, thrilling and entertaining.

David James/Warner Bros. Pictures Cage (Tom Cruise) and Master Sgt. Farell (Bill Paxton).

Earth is in the midst of a war with an adaptive alien race that is slowly conquering the planet. Maj. William Cage (Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher) has been on the P.R. side of the war and lacks any useful combat experience, but he’s been sent to the frontlines in what is expected to be the pivotal battle of the conflict.

Dispatched to J company under the command of Master Sgt. Farell (a spirited as always Bill Paxton, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Cage gets a rough introduction to military life and control of the impressive battle suits the military utilizes.

edge-of-tomorrow-noah-taylor-tom-cruise-and-emily-bluntUpon entering the battlefield, Cage gets caught in a time loop (or, a cage) where he finds himself reliving the day of the battle every time he’s killed. He soon finds a kindred spirit in Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, Your Sister’s Sister), a legendary warrior who has become the iconic figure for the resistance effort. With Rita’s aid, Cage is able to become nearly as adept a fighter as the two strive to end the war once and for all.

The film is based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel, All You Need Is Kill, but the script went through nearly as many incarnations as Cage with Dante Harper’s original revised by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth who in turn were replaced by Simon Kinberg before Christopher McQuarrie wrote the final version. For as convoluted as the writing process was, the script flows smoothly, which isn’t always the case whenever time travel is involved.

Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise stars as William Cage.

Cage provides Cruise the chance to portray a vulnerable character who isn’t flawless like his typical cocksure action character a la Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series. There’s some character growth for Cruise and consequently the role allows Cruise to deliver his strongest performance in years.

The film also offers the even rarer instance where the female lead has to do the training and rescuing as opposed to being the weak link or not as competent fighter as her male counterparts. It’s a role perfectly suited for Blunt, who conveys far more sex appeal with how strongly Rita is portrayed instead of being paraded around in tight-fitting titillating outfits.

edge-of-tomorrow-emily-blunt-working-out-as-rita

Rita is intended to be every bit Cage’s equal and for a welcome majority of the film, she’s his superior. Blunt’s Rita joins the all-time list of kick-a$$ female protagonists like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Aliens, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Uma Thurman’s The Bride in Kill Bill.

edge-of-tomorrow-franz-drameh-kick-gurry-bill-paxton-and-charlotte-riley.The live, die, rinse, repeat setup allows for some humor that you don’t typically find in sci-fi films. Even better, the comedy elements are as funny as intended without feeling out of place in a sci-fi war flick. And for the most part, the script doesn’t succumb to the need to have Cage and Rita become romantically involved.

Doug Liman, the director behind big blockbusters Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, proves a wise choice to helm this unique film as it requires a filmmaker who can weave humor into a life or death struggle without being overwhelmed with the action elements. Neither the more lighthearted nor the bombastic action pieces feel beyond him and Liman handles both so smoothly he makes it look easy. For a film mainly set on one day, Liman finds new ways to keep it fresh with slight deviations from a previous take.

 edge-of-tomorrow-emily-blunt-as-rita-and-tom-cruise-as-cageThe ending may be the one aspect of the film that’s a bit unsatisfying largely due to the safe, send the audience home with a smile mentality. The filmmakers may have overestimated the viewers’ need for a happy ending as the story didn’t need a neat and tidy conclusion. Ending aside, this is the year’s don’t miss sci-fi adventure and one you’ll definitely want to fully experience on the big screen.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Photo Credit: David James/Warner Bros. Pictures


  • Good review Jeff. Sure, it’s a gimmick, but it works well with that gimmick and always finds way to surprise us time and time again.

  • “Edge of Tomorrow” proves a summer blockbuster doesn’t have to be based on a comic book film or a sequel to be just as exciting, thrilling and entertaining.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_you_need_is_kill

  • “… doesn’t have to be based on a comic book, film or a sequel”
    Edge of Tomorrow is based on the Japanese Graphic Novel: All You Need is Kill

  • Thanks Alan. I actually checked out the article too and didn’t want to bog the review down explaining the difference between light novel, manga and a comic book although I’m sure that will earn me the scorn of some of these guys online…
    Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons

  • keith

    i am going to skip and wait for dvd. I can dig a good sci-fi film but I just dont know. Question jeff, it may be a movie night at the house with the mrs… suggestions.. good comedy, can be girly but not depressing. i have vudu and amazon on the ps3 so I can a little higher than a redbox film. I know come up with some random stuff man.

  • Thanks Dan. I really enjoyed it and glad to hear you did as well. Summer season is off to a good start!

  • What’s the last good sci-fi you’ve seen?

    Hmmn. I’m kinda terrible with this. Did you all see “About Last Night?” That was a solid romantic comedy.

    How about you give me 4-5 choices and I’ll rank them for you?

  • keith

    I cant really remember… yeah we saw in theaters. I got nothing at the time. I will check back. I see cap got paid. well you know you have your qb for years to come

  • Yeah, best part was it was a nice team-friendly deal too so I’m happy with it. 🙂

  • Barry Murray

    Just watched this today. Very impressed. It truly is Groundhog day for scifi fans though. No need to skirt around that.
    I loved the redemption angle.
    And contrary to the guy who commented on your Facebook post, i also thought Oblivion was a great movie.

  • LOL. Yeah, I was thinking that, but I just felt like it was too obvious and when I saw how often it was referenced on Rotten Tomatoes, I felt better for not mentioning it.

    Me too. Felt like it was such a creative idea and done well.

    And my thoughts on “Oblivion” are well-documented here 😉

  • Barry Murray

    Yeah. I’d say this is easily cut from the same cloth as Oblivion.
    But i do love Oblivion. I have a copy of the Blu Ray at work, and love the featurettes as much as the movie itself, for the work that went into it.

  • I don’t watch a lot of featurettes, but I suspect that one would be a lot of fun.

  • Barry Murray

    There is a portion of the featurette available online. I have set it to play after the intro. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9m6KzRMWnA#t=194

  • Very cool. I like the “Tom Cruise, Actor” identification as if people don’t know who he is 😉

  • Barry Murray

    Here is Tom Cruise. You may remember him from such movies as Endless Love, Taps, The outsiders, Losin’ It, Risky Business, All The Right Moves, Legend, Top gun, The Color Of Money, Cocktail, Rain Man, Born On The Fourth Of July, Days Of Thunder, Far And Away, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Interview With The Vampire, Mission: Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia, Mission: Impossible II, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, Collateral, War Of The Worlds, Mission: Impossible III, Lions For Lambs, Tropic Thunder, Valkyrie, Knight And Day, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Rock Of Ages, Jack Reacher, Oblivion, and Edge Of Tomorrow.
    If you don’t remember those, then trust us. He is an actor.
    ^_^

  • LOL. Good one. I know putting in all those movies was time-consuming, but it made me crack up. 😉

  • Barry Murray

    It just took a minute or two. IMDB is my friend.
    But i was imagining it in the voice of Troy McClure.
    I think the primary problem with Tom Cruise(And it’s not a problem, per se), is that he is SO well know, it’s hard not to have seen a great portion of his work and already have seen hours of him acting.
    It takes me slightly out of a movie with such a major celebrity when you have already seen almost his entire body of work.
    And the exact opposite when i am watching a movie with complete unknowns.
    Did you ever get the chance to watch Primer?

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