Monday, 2 June 2014

Edge Of Tomorrow

If there's one thing I hate, it's films which include that universally familiar helicopter shot of the Thames with the Houses Of Parliament and the London Eye, then stick the utterly redundant caption "LONDON" over it for the benefit of people too dumb to dress themselves. It happened in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and immediately told me the film was aimed at total fucking idiots. So when it turned up in Edge Of Tomorrow, I punched the person next to me out of rage and settled in for a completely average sci-fi videogame shoot-em-up. And that's exactly what I got. But not for about an hour. The rest was ace.
When you gotta go, you gotta go

There's so much to love in the first act. Tom Cruise plays deliciously against type as Major William Cage, an oily PR gonk who'd do anything to weasel out of a fight, and it's as refreshing as a jug of iced water down the front of your undies. No sooner is he railroaded into joining the battle for humanity against an army of alien bastards, for which he is hilariously under-equipped, than he falls into an inconvenient time-loop which is masterfully handled by director Doug Liman. It's easy to bore the audience to tears by repeating stuff over and over (see also Vantage Point, my BlogalongaBond reviews), but Chris McQuarrie's zippy script doesn't fuck about. McQuarrie and Liman ruthlessly shove the plot towards the all-important exposition while playing the scenes for LOLs, of which there are many - mostly gleefully derived from Cruise dying horribly. Watching him struggle to get the safety off on his ludicrous battle suit for fifteen minutes is almost as much fun as seeing Bill Paxton playing exactly the soldier that Aliens' Private Hudson would have become.

When the action moves to the beaches of northern France and a full-on barney with the bad guys, the cracks in the story start to show. There are obvious parallels with the second world war - much of this section plays out like a PG Saving Private Ryan - but for no clear subtextual reason. Edge Of Tomorrow is a knockabout sci-fi extravaganza, and it makes no claims to rival the existential crisis of Groundhog Day, which is fine but also a shame; the opportunity to have it actually say something is right there, but instead it's happy to be a film about Tom Cruise learning to be Tom Cruise.
How To Be Tom Cruise, Step 1: Run funny while pulling a daft face

At this point though, all is still well: Emily Blunt is fiery and caustic as the Full Metal Bitch who's the only one with the knowledge to help Cage through his predicament; Noah Taylor does the Basil Exposition thing well enough and everything is trucking along so nicely that when Cage understandably takes a day off from dying horribly to go to the pub, we're happy for the chance to see him take it easy. But at around the half way mark, the gags dry up, it all gets a bit serious and when the final act rolls around Edge Of Tomorrow reverts into exactly the completely average sci-fi videogame shoot-em-up I was dreading. At one point I thought Liman had stitched in scenes from Pacific Rim, so generic was the climax. It's an argument for another day, but why is Hollywood so scared of doing an original finale? It's like a comfort blanket filmmakers think we need so we don't go stumbling out into the night, confused and terrified by the slightest alteration to a tired formula.

Anyway, Edge Of Tomorrow does what it does very well, it's just that what it does is only partially interesting. Having turned out an hour of first class blockbuster entertainment, it chickens out, puts the safety back on and delivers a denouement that's merely fine. Then, as if to ensure the erasure of any leftover goodwill, it parps out a catastrophically confusing coda that makes literally no sense whatsoever. Still, you've seen Tom Cruise be a hero, you've seen him die countless times and you've seen a sweaty Emily Blunt get up off the floor in a sexier way than anyone's ever got up off the floor before, and you've seen it about half a dozen times. Something for everyone there.

1 comment :

  1. This movie is good to watch especially if you are special effects geek.. but for the people who watched the movie 'Source code' this movie might not interest much as the base concept of this movie is like similar and one might feel the Deja-Vu.. Tom cruise is all over the movie and it will be treat for his female fans. Emily Blunt is good for her role.