It’s been a month or so since the latest Tom Cruise blockbuster opened. In it, Cruise has to relive the same day over and over again until he can find a way to defeat an alien invasion. The film opened to generally positive reviews, but a disappointing box office. Perhaps it was due to its release date, the same time as X-Men: Days of Future Past. Perhaps it’s because it’s starring Tom Cruise who isn’t the draw he once was. All that you need to know you should watch it because it’s one of the best summer films of the last few years.
Here are a few reasons why:
Like him or loathe him (and I can see why people don’t like him) Tom Cruise’s star has waned in the past few years, probably due to his personal life. The current generation growing up won’t have known a time when Cruise wasn’t “That crazy cult guy who jumped on a sofa and locked up his wife”. But you can’t deny that he’s still a Movie Star. We overuse that word a lot, but if anyone deserves it in the last 25 years, it’s Cruise. He’s not the greatest actor, but when he’s on screen you can’t NOT look at the guy, such is his charisma. And in this film, he’s just great. Starting off arguably as a version of how the world sees him, Cruise is a coward and good at it too. Slowly we see him redeemed and take on more depth, so by the end when he flashes his trademark smile, everyone in the audience of the screening I was in was smiling with him.
Oh my god, how great is Emily Blunt in this film?! Playing the hard as nails “Full Metal Bitch” (a name her character responds to hilariously), the commander who has won the only battle against the alien invasion so far, she herself was affected by the same ability Cruise had in the past. Her character, though a tough nut, is never just a ‘strong female character’, Blunt adding depth to her. Though Cruise has the raw charisma, she’s the one who steals the show and she seems to have made him up his acting game too. There is a scene or two in the film this is better than entire other films FRANCHISES and there’s a believable chemistry between them that never stoops so low as to make them a romantic couple by default.
Its smart and funny
By now, we’ve been trained to think that all summer action blockbusters have to be dumb and take themselves far too seriously, especially if it’s something as supposedly weighty as an alien invasion. Edge of Tomorrow sticks two fingers up to that. Sure, it’s not a This is the End style comedy, but the film realises there is a rich seam of comedy that can be gleamed from a film where Tom Cruise DOES KNOW EVERYTHING for once. You can see the film giggling along at every turn on the film, as we view Cruise die more than just a few ignoble deaths (usually with a phrase Cruise makes hilarious
“Son of a Bitch!”). There’s a lot of sly humour too, as the film parodies and deliberately skips over pointless info dumps lesser films would feel they needed to put in, with a hand wave or a muttered “Yeah, I know that already”. The result is a film that has you laughing frequently from start to finish.
In amongst the explosions, the film is a character study.
In most blockbusters, character is secondary to stunts or scenes of destruction. Yet, gloriously, Edge of Tomorrow reverses that trend. It does have its moments of bombast, but they are used to service character development or provoke a feeling within you, as the opening battle scene that invokes Saving Private Ryan’s D-Day visceral nightmare. But the moments that work best are the quiet ones, as the cycles of death begin to show us Cruise’s character slowly become a more rounded person and the opposite to the blackmailing, cowardly man we see at the beginning of the film.
It’s not fucking Transformers
Yeah, I know this is a bit too late now. Transformers 4: Cultural Extinction has already made all the monies. But for those who haven’t seen Michael Bay’s most nihilistic statement about society yet (Spoiler: he thinks you’re a fucking idiot and is laughing about it), please save your cash. The money spend can be used to buy this film and at least two others on DVD. Or a 4 month Netflix subscription! Just spend your money elsewhere. Trans4oomers: Death to Society already got its fill. Spend your cash on something that will thrill, entertain and nourish that brain of yours. All wrapped up in a film where Emily Blunt mashes aliens in the face with a helicopter blade. Now that’s entertainment.