edge_of_tomorrow_ver4Time travel movies can be tough to pull off. The story can get so bogged down or confused by keeping track of what time you are in, or explaining the mechanics of time travel that you never know what’s going on with what you should care about— the story arc. One movie that did it successfully was GROUNDHOG DAY. It kept it simple and used it to service the main character’s confusion, frustration and disorientation and ultimately the funny. Consider EDGE OF TOMORROW a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day that works just as well.
We are dropped into the middle of a war between the Mimics and Earth. They have invaded the planet and are bent on annihilation. Tom Cruise is a Major and PR person for the Earth’s forces. When the Commanding General (Brendan Gleeson) orders him to the front to document the big D-Day style invasion of France, Cruise displays an impressive amount of cowardice and quick thinking to try and worm his way out of the assignment. When he tries to run he is stunned with a taser and shipped to the forward operating base at Heathrow Airport. He wakes up a private in a unit that will be among the first to land in France. During that battle he is killed, yet not killed. The way he dies allows him to reset that day every time he is killed. Each time he wakes up at Heathrow and begins living the day again. But, right before one death, he encounters Emily Blunt who recognizes what is happening to Cruise and starts training him to defeat the enemy. Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier to follow on the screen than on this page. Just like in Groundhog Day, you really feel the main character’s anxiety and frustration as you and he figure out what is going on together. It also helps to have such strong actors as the leads. Cruise and Blunt play off each other nicely and show great chemistry as she tries to turn the coward into a hero. Blunt is especially great. Her character is a war hero who has gone through what Cruise is going through. She has become the face of the war effort because of her fearless victory in a previous battle. Blunt perfectly pulls off a strong female character that is at least Cruise’s equal. And Cruise allows her to play to those strengths rather than trying to hog the spotlight. But make no mistake, this is Cruise’s movie. His transformation from mouse to lion is satisfying and makes him easy to root for, even when he seems like a totally inept jerk. If you aren’t in the mood for a teenage tearjerker, EDGE OF TOMORROW is just the movie you are looking for. — Alan Yudman

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