Edge Of Tomorrow: A Groundhog Day Ode To Emily Blunt

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Our Rating

I have seen Edge Of Tomorrow 15 times since it came out about 3-4 weeks ago, AND I REGRET NOTHING! Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I was this hooked on a film. It is kind of amazing how you can take a cool concept (aka the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka), add Tom Cruise to is and voila! You got yourself a winner! I cannot believe m actually saying this about the film starring Tom Cruise but I guess there’s the first time for everything.

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THE STORY

Edge Of Tomorrow is a military sci-fi drama about Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a US Army Public Affairs officer, who is sent by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) to cover Operation Downfall – a battle against alien invaders called Mimics – from the front line. Knowing nothing about combat whatsoever, Cage refuses to go – because it’s too much of a death wish, if you ask me. Which isn’t even his to begin with. But then again, ‘no’ is not an acceptable answer in the army, so Cage is knocked out and sent to the operating base at Heathrow Airport where Master Sergeant Ferrell (Bill Paxton) assigns him to join a squad of, well, misfits known as J Squad.

Once on the battlefield, it doesn’t take Cage long to die, what with now knowing how to fight extra intelligent, fast and deadly extraterrestrial life forms, but not before he blows up one of them, an Alpha Mimic, that generously bleeds all over him…and the next moment Cage wakes up at Heathrow Airport 24 hours earlier, handcuffed and disoriented. His day starts all over again. After a series of miserable attempts to make Sergeant and the squad believe him, Cage resigns to trying to save his life on the beach instead, for which he turns to Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), also known as “Full Metal Bitch” for her combat skills and “Angel of Verdun” as someone who slaughtered hundreds of Mimics in the battle at Verdun.

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For better or for worse, Rita knows exactly what’s going on with Cage as the exact same thing happened to her in Verdun. Alien blood, people! With the help of Dr. Carter, a physicist and a mechanic, and the only other person who believes in time loops and has some knowledge about the biology of Mimics, they try to figure out where the Omega – the brain of the Mimic army – is located so that they could, you know, kill it and save the world.

Easier said than done though. Not only does Cage have to train excessively and then die every day, he, of course, starts getting attached to Rita. When they finally figure out where to find the Omega and he realizes that she wouldn’t let him keep her alive, he goes all Rambo and leaves her out of ‘save the world’ operation and decides to defeat the Omega alone. Granted the Omega is not where he thought it’d be. Because it’d be too simple, right?

Not having other options or ideas, Rita and Cage turn to Dr. Carter who managed to invent a very handy device that can potentially track the Omega. The prototype, however, is kept in General Brigham’s office, although after a number of attempts, most of them ending with Cage getting a bullet in the head, they manage to finally convince the General that they REALLY need it, to save the world and stuff. But history tends to repeat itself – and the Dynamic Duo is on the run from, I don’t know, half of British /US/whatever  army. Good thing that they don’t need a live Alpha to make the device work. Just sticking it in Cage’s leg should suffice, theoretically. Ouch!

On the bright side – it worked! Running away from the troops? … Not so much. Rita and Cage end up in the field hospital where Cage gets a blood transfusion, thus losing his ability to reset time. They know where the find the Omega though, so it’s better than nothing. Except  it’s in Paris, of all places, and they have only 3 hours to get there and kill it before it’s too late. Luckily, all they need to do is mobilize J Squad and steal the drop ship… and not die too fast.

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Once over Paris, they are attacked by an army of Mimics that kills half of the team in under two minutes. The ship crashes before they make it to Louvre, and Cage and Rita, with the help of the remaining J Squad, propel their way toward the museum on a badly damaged but still more or less functional aircraft. By the time they get to Louvre, everyone except Cage and Rita is dead. They two have nothing but minutes to find the Omega before the Mimics catch up with them.

Being all gentleman, Cage offers to distract the Alpha to give Rita a chance to kill the Omega but she’s more realistic about it – he’s not likely to help much. So instead, she tells him to go and finish the job while she holds the Alpha back for, like, 10 seconds. They share a hasty kiss before parting their ways for good. Don’t underestimate the Alpha though – it kills Rita within moment and catches up with Cage, wounding him mortally but not before he manages to drop the grenade belt right into, erm, whatever part of the Omega. I’m not sure. It was all folds and pulsing flesh. The death of the Omega destroys the whole Mimic army, thus putting an end to the war. Hooray!

It’s Cage’s lucky day, however, because when the Omega’s blood envelops his body, it gives him the time-resetting powers back, and the next moment he wakes up 24 hours earlier, in the helicopter on the way to London where General Brigham officially announces the end of the war after some ‘unknown impulse’ destroyed the Mimic army.

Cage goes to the base. Rita did tell him after all to come find her after her wakes up. She never said he shouldn’t AFTER they won the war, right?

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THE CONCEPT

I cannot believe I’m saying that but Edge Of Tomorrow wasn’t just decent, despite my initial skepticism, but it was pretty damn good! Granted, it wasn’t the plot that I had doubts about but participation of Tom Cruise in the project. I don’t just not like him. I pretty much can’t stand him, and, all things considered, I haven’t seen a film starring Cruise in… 10 years, perhaps? He’s not the best of actors, and let’s face it, he’s downright creepy and not quite stable human being, which normally is a massive red flag in my book. In fact, I didn’t even plan on seeing it but I was there and it was a cheap Tuesday, and I thought “What the hell?” so… 15 viewings later, I’m still awed by it, no freakin’ kidding!

Despite being adapted from a book, Edge Of Tomorrow remains one of a very few original sci-fi films released in the past few months – a film that wasn’t a sequel, a prequel, or an illegitimate child of another film. And now that were on it, it’s more of a loose adaptation/’based on’ kind of thing that wasn’t sticking too close to the source material.

Edge Of Tomorrow turned out being a rather fun mash p of Pacific Rim and Groundhog Day with the exactly right amount of action, drama and humor to make 2 hours fly by. And come on, who wouldn’t want to see Tom Cruise die over and over and over again in a variety of intricate ways?

Interestingly enough, neither the book, nor the film go deep into the origins, biology and behavioral concepts of the Mimics, making it easier for both the fans of the novel and the writers of the screenplay play with their abilities, intentions and overall mythology, which I believe is a good thing because both the difference and the similarities between the film and the book are acceptable without being ‘wrong’ – which is usually one of the reasons the fandom scollide whenever it comes to book-to-film adaptations.

THE CHARACTERS

Man, to be honest I cannot even begin to imagine how much I would love Edge Of Tomorrow if someone else played the lead role. Anyone, really. Just not Tom Cruise. Anyone!

Yet, there’s nothing to be done now.

And I am shocked to say that, but Cruise kind of did a decent job. I will probably burn in hell for saying that but he was actually good. As good as he can be, at least.

Bill Cage starts off as a rather unpleasant, way too self confident and a somewhat sleazy character you probably wouldn’t want to deal with in real life. He’s clearly used to being able to talk himself out of any trouble, which is ew, right? Faced with the challenge of covering the battle from the front line, he does anything a person in his position can do to avoid it – from trying to blackmail the General, to attempting to talk his way out of it with Sergeant Farrel, to taking off on the way to the drop ship, unsuccessfully. Had it been someone else – not Tom Cruise, that is – I would most likely be more sympathetic. After all, being sent to war without any kind of training is pretty much a death sentence even when you’re not fighting an army of something like the Mimics. Tom Cruise and his smug face did the job, however, making me really and truly enjoy every single one of his deaths.

This kind of setup though made Cage’s character arc particularly strong and prominent. Against our expectations, he gets sucked into the saving the world plan, first – to get rid of the time-manipulating skills, then – when he embraces the fact that with great knowledge comes great responsibility. Remember the guy that tried to wiggle his way out of the operation?

After the time loop is established, Cage chooses to use every day as a chance to master his combat skills and at the very least try and put an end to the war that at this point looks particularly hopeless and grim. Having no military background, he learns to think like a soldier, at the same time remaining ‘civilian’ enough to treat Rita and the J Squad as human beings and not just expendable pawns. For a sci-fi film that feels more like a video game than a movie, it is one hell of a character growth and development, which Cruise delivers with surprising skill and believability.

Speaking of which! Had it not been for the rule of screenwriting that clearly states that the main character is the one that has the most significant character arc – which is Cage, much to my dismay – I would absolutely call Rita Vrataski, brought to you by absolutely brilliant Emily Blunt the real hero of the film. Yes, it is Cage we see the most. It is his POV the story is told from, but from the moment Rita first appears on screen it is definitely her we root for. In the world that is slowly but more or less steadily embraces the importance of strong female characters, Rita Vrataski brings ‘badass’ to a whole new level.

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While Bill Cage, as a character, stands pretty far from his novel prototype, Rita Vrataski is one of a few aspects of the books that’s been brought into the film almost unchanged. The bits and pieces of her back story are mostly revealed through her dialogue with Cage, making the audience yearn for more.

To say that Blunt killed the role would be an understatement. Her physical training that took place dor the period of 5 months prior to the beginning of the project and the stunts, the majority of which she was doing herself, are a true state of art.

Unlike Cage, whose primary goal for the greater part of the movie is to get out of the situation he thinks he ended up in by mistake, Rita feels personally responsible for ending the war this time after she failed to do so in Verdun. She’s a tough and no-nonsense character whose upbringing, experience and training taught her to keep her emotions in check, even though there is obviously more to her than just that. She lets it slip now and then but I’m happy that for the most part she remained focused and forward-thinking.

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Surprisingly enough, the thing that caused the biggest and the most conflicted reaction the romance in the film. It’s never really direct and for the most part it’s quite one-sided – understandably, after spending ‘several months’ in her company, Cage develops certain affection for Rita. It is addressed directly just once – when she asks him what difference it makes whether she lives or dies in the battle. For her, however, he’s just a means of ending the war, a person she know for a few hours before she has to put a bullet in his brain. She does understand him though, having gone through the exact same thing when she was stuck in her own loop, which she doesn’t like acknowledging or addressing, but that’s about it.

So, the kiss….

Shared with a man Rita knew for a few hours and initiated by her, it clearly wasn’t a romantic gesture on her part. The kiss signified understanding and a goodbye. They’d been through hell together, and she was indeed grateful for making it this far and having a chance to actually end the war. Admittedly, had the kiss been initiated by Cage, I’d be tempted to read more into it than camaraderie, but for Rita it hardly meant anything romantic. Thus, the kiss and whatever was her reasoning behind it did not in any way diminish her position or weaken her. Through the entire film, she was the moving force and one of the strongest female characters seen in the films in the past few years, but she is not a robot, and showing a glimpse of actual emotion in the end wasn’t a crime.

As for the others characters, they weren’t, in my opinion, developed enough for me to really care about them. The J Squad was more or less expendable, although I’d definitely like to learn more about them and how they ended up in processing. Same goes for Dr. Carter and Sergeant Farell but focusing primarily on Cage and Rita made the film tight and dynamic, so kudos for that.

BITS AND PIECES

* Even though, time-loop speaking, Edge Of Tomorrow is close in its plot to Groundhog Day, the fact that both lead male characters are named Rita is just a coincidence.

* When Cage sticks the Omega-tracking device in his leg and has a vision of Paris, he sees Eiffel Tower toppled over, which could not have happened because it’s not physically possible. In case of natural, or supernatural, disaster and due to the peculiarities of its construction, the Eiffel Tower would’ve snapped in half or something instead of toppling over.

* We’ll let it pass for the sake of plot and conflict and such, but in the final pre-battle sequence, Cage didn’t have to lose his ability. Technically, Rita could have stuck the device in his leg right there in Brigham’s office, then shot him and reset the whole thing – the conversation would’ve never happened, they wouldn’t have had to run away. He needed to lose the power, yes, but it still felt like something that should’ve been done differently.

* Rita’s love for coffee in the abandoned farm house was the reflection of her literary character who has a particular appreciation for this drink. The book, however, spends too much time addressing it, so it was wise do drop it in the end.

* There is a lot of buzz going on about the change of title, from All You Need Is Kill to Edge Of Tomorrow, but, frankly, in my opinion, why it was not only logical but maybe even necessary. First of all, Edge Of Tomorrow is a loose adaptation that left out a bunch of stuff that was vitally important in the novel, thus making stepping away from the source material more justified. And secondly, you can’t release a film called All You Need Is Kill in a country where people keep killing each other with enviable dedication.

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AFTERWORD

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the ending at this point. The filmmakers stepped away from the classic Japanese/Manga ending that is more ambiguous and less ‘happy’, and steered towards an anticipated ‘happily ever after’. On one hand, it sort of diminished the point of the story and the sacrifices the characters made in order to save the world. Not to mention the fact that the ending has a bit of a slip, as in – if Cage managed to reset the day again, going 24 hour back in time, wouldn’t it mean that the Omega was supposed to come back to life the way everyone else did? We’ll let it go though, for the sake of ‘aww’.

On the other hand, if they did go for the All You Need Is Kill ending, it’d mean killing off a strong and well developed female character, and the films need to stop doing that, period! Yes, it would perhaps feel a little more realistic but it would inevitably make the film darker and more depressing, taking it into a slightly different direction, which is not necessarily what the filmmakers would want.

Edge Of Tomorrow is a strong film and a masterpiece of sorts on its own, and at this point I’m not sure I’d appreciate the idea of a sequel – not that they’re thinking about one. I would, however, absolutely love to see a prequel, focusing entirely on Rita’s becoming the Angel of Verdun. Pretty please?

The Breakdown

A coffee junkie and a passionate traveler, Nadin is in love with all things writing – because who wants to live in the real world, anyway? TV or films – everything needs to be fast paced and dramatic. Scary? Even better! A vampire at heart, she can always be found in her cave, glued to her laptop. As a dedicated yogi and someone who can easily hike all the way to Alaska, Nadin thinks she’s the unhealthiest healthy person ever – because pizza, duh? She strongly believes that live needs to be lived, so… walk away from whatever makes you sad and make things happen!

2 Comments

  • pizzaman@gmail.com'
    January 21, 2015

    bob

    Jeez chill out on the Tom Cruise hating. You took pleasure every time Cage died bc Tom Cruise was playing him? That’s a little sick and violent.

    • February 9, 2015

      Nadin P

      There’s no hate, I’m just not the biggest fan, but that’s all. If I hated him, I wouldn’t watching this film 57 times. Also, ‘take pleasure’ is a bit strong – those scenes were funny, even Emily blunt said so in numerous interviews.