‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is a Fleet-Footed Popcorn Movie

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CHICAGO – “Edge Of Tomorrow” is a high concept, fast of foot popcorn movie that knows how to deliver the goods. While this futuristic sci-fi take on “Groundhog Day” doesn’t break any new ground, it does see that intriguing concept through to a fulfilling and crowd pleasing conclusion.

The film opens with Tom Cruise as a military PR flack selling the country on a ground war in Europe. Humanity is facing off against a race of multi tentacled alien invaders called mimics – they look as though the throwing star from “Krull” went on steroids and sprouted a face. Cruise is all movie star smile and phony charm, the role as an unlikely ill-suited soldier suits his persona perfectly. He’s fine convincing millions of others to fight but a guy this good looking isn’t supposed to get his hands dirty, right? After a run in with a General, he’s punished by being sent to the front on a D-Day style mission on the beaches of France to take back the continent. He’s barely able to get the safety off his clunky slow moving weaponized suit before he’s blown up and then wakes up right back where he started.

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise is Battle Tested in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Based on Hiroshi Sikurazaka’s novel “All You Need Is Kill,” Cruise’s character is seemingly stuck in a kind of alien time warp where he’s able to repeat the same day over and over again as long as he dies in the end. He gets the sense of deja vu all over again, and knows he’s been here before and done this and said that many many times, but no one else does. The film makes the most of the black comedy elements with Cruise suffering various gruesome fates (including a hilarious montage of Cruise repeatedly getting shot in the head) only to wake up back in the barracks getting yelled at by a drill sergeant (Bill Paxton) whose corn-pone country charm is a constant delight.

So Cruise the phony smiling jackass becomes a little more understanding of his fellow soldiers, and gets a little better at slugging around his plodding malfunctioning weaponized suit while trying to survive the attack. Along the way he meets and gets to know a female super soldier named Rita (Emily Blunt). She once had the same kind of power and handed the alien invaders a rare defeat until she suddenly lost his ability to repeat.

Emily Blunt is surprising effective here about as far away as you can get from the high fashion comfort zone of “Devil Wears Prada.” Instead she’s a kick ass warrior along the lines of Ripley in “Aliens,” and holds her own with Cruise and the rest of the explosive effects. The film’s clunky futuristic suits are a nice touch too. They’re also refreshingly not overly CGI. I was constantly reminded of “Man Of Steel” watching this film. In that movie the elaborate CGI weaponry swallowed up the actors, reducing acting titans like Michael Shannon to mere blips amid the chaos of digital noise. But in “Edge Of Tomorrow” the government issue sub-standard equipment is anything but sleek. It allows the actors to outshine their clunky equipment and slog through the hellish scenarios ahead.

Emily Blunt
Rita (Emily Blunt) Inspires the Troops in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Director Doug Liman certainly knows his way around a blockbuster. While Director Paul Greengrass gets most of the praise for the two later Bourne movies, Liman’s original “Bourne Identity” is no slouch either. And he deserves much of the credit here for guiding this complicated action extravaganza through its paces without getting bogged down. He repeats just enough to be effective and then wisely shortens the sequences to keep the movie moving.

The film isn’t concerned much with the deeper meanings and the philosophical effects of its time warp. It’s more concerned with living in the moment and keeping its momentum. It’s a machine for entertaining and thrilling its audience, while even providing couples with a few forearm grabbing moments – and I suspect plenty of forearms will be squeezed after this one.

“Edge of Tomorrow” opens everywhere on June 6th in 3D, IMAX and regular screenings. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Kick Gurry and Noah Taylor. Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. Directed by Doug Liman. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


© 2014 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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