September 20, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Doug Liman, 2014
Typically reluctant to get involved in the physical elements of war, Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself on the battleground fighting against an invading alien force that has already destroyed much of the world. When he falls victim to one of the creatures during a firefight, he realizes that when he dies he awakens at the beginning of the day where everything starts over again.

Liman's Sci-Fi thriller is a mix between Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers (who would have though that would have ever been possible?). Cruise once again finds himself in the Sci-fi genre, where at this point he should feel quite comfortable having already starred in films like Minority Report, Oblivion, War of the Worlds -the latter two dealing with similar plots of aliens invading Earth. But where last year's Oblivion fell victim to dragging predictability, Edge really keeps you engaged and maintains it's rapid pace to the end. Unfortunately Edge fell victim to poor marketing, and didn't really perform well at the box office in early June 2014 when it was released. It should have done much better, seeing as it wasn't up against any big-budget action films but instead found itself up against tween-adaptation/tearjerker The Fault in our Stars. But it was probably too smart for the typical action-seeking-moviegoers who are still mourning the loss of Paul Walker from cinema, forever depressed about the unfillable hole in their precious Fast and the Furious franchise. But who cares about the numbers, really. The only unfortunate part of it is that Liman wasn't immediately praised for his work here, and he really should have been. Instead, the film will likely go on to maintain more of a cult status which is fine too. History should be kind to you Doug Liman.

The film is certainly not absent of lots of CGI and big-budget effects, but they really provide a complimentary dynamic to the brilliant screenwriting. It never feels gimmicky or ever makes you feel like there's any kind of imbalance. It doesn't just try to wear you down with stimulation. It's a heady piece that puts your brain to work. And along with the great writing, Liman puts some his familiar Bourne Identity film-making techniques to work again, with a lot of the erratic jumps and cuts. During the opening moments of the film you realize that the earth has been invaded by aliens as they land on earth on asteroids. You don't see them right away, and when you are finally introduced to them on the battlefield you realize how much of an unstoppable force they are. They sort of come off as a hybrid of Predator & James Cameron's Alien on amphetamines. By the time you actually have one in your sights, it's probably too late to take it down unless you have an impeccable shot. And Cruise's early work on the battlefield is anything but impeccable. Playing against type, he attempts to blackmail his commanding officer in an attempt to cowardly escape actual battle. It's a clever trick, because you really get a sense of his character's evolution as he has to repeat each day correcting his mistakes, hoping to eventually figure out how to defeat the mighty force. In a genre where is quite the disparity of quality, Edge manages to stand out while performing its own take on the alien invasion theme.

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