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Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt take on alien invaders

Jun. 10, 2014
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Edge of Tomorrow
The specter of alien invasion has haunted the human imagination since H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Drawn from Japanese pulp fiction, Edge of Tomorrow restates Wells’ premise: beings advanced enough to cross interplanetary space have the know-how to give the armies of Earth a sound whacking.

Enter Major Cage (Tom Cruise) and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) to save the world—or is it save the day? In Edge of Tomorrow the world and the day are virtually the same thing. See, Cage must die over and over again, reliving the same experiences but taking them farther toward the goal of finding the brain of the alien organism, the queen bee if you will, and destroy it before Earth is overrun by its spidery minions, called “Mimics” for their ability to perfectly imitate our military tactics (an idea the movie leaves unexplored). Why the necessity of Cage’s ongoing death and resurrection? Oh, you know, something to do with particle physics and time loops or something.

The concept might have worked on the printed page through the magic of the reader’s imagination. On screen, the repetition first becomes funny and eventually tedious despite the sometimes-successful effort of director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) to keep the scenario rolling forward. Death gets dull after awhile. There is humor in the relations between Cage, an oil slick of an ad man in civilian life, and his buff army cohort. The funniest moments come early when Cage, before being forced into his Iron Man combat suit, natters away as the U.S. Army’s information officer. He is the talking head on every news channel, spreading false optimism over the world’s chances of victory against an alien foe of which we know nothing. “We fight because that’s what we do,” he says, waxing as empty as most media spokespeople. It won’t spoil anyone’s fun to mention that he becomes a combat soldier with extreme reluctance.

In Wells’ War of the Worlds, as in Steven Spielberg’s adaption (starring Cruise), heroics were necessary for individual survival, yet humanity was saved by nature, not its own efforts. In Edge of Tomorrow, salvation comes from video game gumption as Cruise and Blunt hang from fast moving vehicles with guns blazing. With a cast like that, the aliens don’t stand a chance.


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