Entertainment Movies Tom Cruise delivers his best work in years

Tom Cruise delivers his best work in years

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Movie Advisor: The Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Lara Pulver, Jeremy Piven, Bill Paxton
Duration: 114 mins
Rating: M – Science fiction violence and infrequent coarse language
Release Date: 5 June, 2014

Critics verdict: This could be the action film of the year. 

Stephen A Russell for thelowdownunder: “The words ‘Tom Cruise’ and ‘blockbuster’ in combination do not generally fill me with abundant hope. It is a huge credit to director Doug Liman of the original The Bourne IdentityJumper and Mr. & Mrs. Smith that his latest box office behemoth, Edge of Tomorrow, is an outstanding, balls-to-the-wall action thriller that successfully marries a smart high concept with a refreshingly irreverent sense of humour.

It boasts a cracking script from Christopher McQuarrie, more along the lines of The Usual Suspects than his less impressive recent trio of Jack the Giant Slayer and Cruise vehicles Jack Reacher and Valkyrie. He’s working here in collaboration with brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, who worked with Liman on Fair Game.

Cruise is unrecognisably self-deprecating here, with the film overtly poking fun at his diminutive stature …

As Edge of Tomorrow opens, the Earth has all but fallen to alien invaders called the Mimics, who crash land via the very 1950s B-movie convention asteroid and have lain waste to Europe. Cruise plays William Cage, a former ad exec press-ganged into becoming the world defence army’s spin-doctor. So far, so standard Cruise smarmy.

Rather quickly, however, an abrasive brush with army bigwig General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) sees cage unceremoniously demoted and sent packing to a Heathrow Airport military base where he’s suited up in a very Alien-like battle skeleton, or ‘jacket,’ to be sent to the front line on the beaches across the Channel in France. Heading into the fray with a bunch of die-hard commando-types, it soon turns out that they’ve been expected, and the Normandy-like beach landing is an all-out slaughter that’s set to wipe out humanity’s last stand.

Thankfully, a bit of sci fi hocus pocus means that a suicidal blast from Cage, aimed at wiping out one of the big bad tumbleweed/octopus-cross aliens results in its blood giving him bizarre Groundhog Day powers. Each time he dies, he finds himself right back at the start of battle with the events reset and able to be altered.

Cruise is unrecognisably self-deprecating here, with the film overtly poking fun at his diminutive stature in these early battle scenes during which he’s clearly a useless civilian getting wiped out repeatedly. What could have been monotonous is kept lively by rapid editing, often playing visual jokes with what has gone before and incrementally moving the story forward, sometimes in giant leaps.

Slowly but surely, Cage learns how to fight, seeking out the aid of war hero Rita, played with Looper-like hard assery by the always-fabulous Emily Bunt. It’s revealed she once shared Cage’s newfound power and, with the help of Noah Taylor’s bumbling astrophysicist turned mechanic, she has a plan to seek out the Mimics’ all-controlling Starship Troopers-style brain bug, the Omega.

Noah Taylor, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow. Photo: Supplied
Noah Taylor, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow. Photo: Supplied

The trippy time reset switch is a hoot, and the 3D graphics are mind-blowingly fierce, particularly in the devastating beach battle that plays out as a gore-censored but nevertheless bone-shuddering Saving Private Ryan. A later scene in a devastated Paris is also fantastic, with the frenetic pace rarely letting up, but Liman deftly orchestrates the destruction, ensuring it doesn’t sink into mind-numbing Transformers fare. Blunt and Cruise invest a great deal of heart in their action heroics, thankfully minimising the hokum romance angle. The sheer cinematic gold of Blunt repeatedly blowing Cruise’s brains out, in order to reset the day whenever something goes wrong, never gets old.”

ABC News (US): ” The time-shifting sci-fi thriller “Edge of Tomorrow” has perfectly encapsulated what it is to be a summertime moviegoer. We’re dropped into a battlefield of digital effects with the fate of the world at stake. Torrents of gunfire and explosions surround. Some alien clonks us over the head.”

At the Movies: Margaret says: ” I think this is an entertainment – “an entertainment” – and a lot of it is very well done. I love the fact that there are so many Aussies in it. I am giving it three and a half stars.”

The Verge says: “Remarkably, ageing hasn’t diminished Cruise’s appeal. He was his timeless kinetic self in 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and even in a dud like Rock of Ages he gave his all in such a spellbinding way that you ended up rooting for him despite the movie. That’s definitely not a problem with his latest, Edge of Tomorrow, which is superb. Like Cruise himself at this stage of his career, the film’s concept ought to be played-out and obvious, but Edge of Tomorrow is much smarter and sharper than you’d expect. And much of its success comes from Cruise’s anchoring, fully engaged performance.”

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