Thursday, June 5, 2014

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

When I watched Tom Cruise in a mech suit punching aliens in the face with one hand and spraying machine gun ammo with the other, I had just one thought in my mind – why was Edge of Tomorrow marketed so poorly? Because Edge of Tomorrow is a terrific film, and perhaps the most satisfying action movie I’ve seen this year.

Directed by Doug Liman who earlier made the first Bourne movie, Edge of Tomorrow is a mashup of Groundhog Day, Starship Troopers and Source Code with a dash of Minority Report. Cruise’s previous movie Oblivion was also a mashup of various sci fi films but it came across as clichéd and unoriginal. Edge of Tomorrow, on the other hand is packaged beautifully. It takes all the positive elements from the aforementioned movies and becomes a different beast altogether.

Cruise stars as a major with no combat experience thrust right in between a war against aliens, and somehow wakes up a day earlier every single time he is killed in action. We’ve seen this plot structure before but never executed this way. Edge of Tomorrow feels like a very enjoyable video game in hard mode. There’s no time to waste here – we’re put right inside a war on the beach that feels like the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan. And the scene plays out in different perspectives throughout the film because the protagonist keeps returning constantly and trying out various routes to survive. That way the whole film is one single two hour long giant action set piece, and it’s entertaining as hell.

The film is based on the manga ‘All you need is Kill’ and thankfully the film is less Hollywood and more Jap manga both in style and plotting. There are neither love story clichés nor saccharine orchestra music to sentimentalize issues. This is a hardcore action film that reminds you why we started going to theaters to watch action movies. You walk into this film expecting some mayhem, you’ll get a gigantic serving of it along with smart plotting and even clever humor. The editing is insane and there’s no time to breathe, as Cruise’s character keeps getting killed in various, at times hilarious ways and the film leaps forward in time seamlessly. Not to mention the amazing production design that really nails the large scale war scenes.

Liman also does away with the origin of the aliens – it’s a straightforward story – they’re here and they’re dangerous and they’re at war with us. The aliens themselves are uniquely designed, and although you can’t fully appreciate the CGI in 3D they’re still pretty intense. The mech suit is very cool and the characters’ movements in them display some serious attention to detail.

Cruise gets a lot of hate for his off screen antics but you gotta appreciate his acting talent and his love for sci fi. Moreover this is an original sci fi movie, not a sequel or a remake, and a damned good one at that. Plus there’s a delightfully muscular Emily Blunt who wields a sword and keeps appearing in a Yoga pose dozens of times in the film. I’d be more than happy to keep dying over and over again to witness that sight.

(First published in MiD Day)

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