By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Maybe Tom Cruise can use Scientology to explain Edge of Tomorrow. It has the makings to have a deeper meaning but that’s an opportunity missed. This science fiction film uses a time loop formula in the style of Groundhog Day to tell a ‘save the Earth from an alien invasion’ scenario in the vein of Starship Troopers. In terms of how this religion can be read into this film, all anyone has to know is that from one life to another the immortal soul learns from its experiences from one life to better itself in the next. In this film’s case, Major William Cage (Cruise) gains the experience needed to deal with the marauding Mimics, a tentacled species intent on conquering Earth, every time he dies and is ‘reborn.’
He retains his memories from previous time slips, and he has no explanation why he is forced to relive boot camp all over again. Who chooses it? Not him. The last five years have been spent by the entire human race in trying to reclaim their planet, and the united military thinks they can send them back into space by a combined sortie at several fronts. Unfortunately, Cage disagrees and gets demoted before being tossed to fight like the grunt he is not. He was no experience in the field. He’s no soldier. He is simply a public relations guy bestowed a honourary rank so the media can love him. That detail is a quibble in a story that conveniently decides when and where Cage gets to relive his worst moments of his life. It’s not anytime before the war started but instead it’s when he gets forced into active duty. But he will not earn his stars and stripes anytime soon because he has no proper military experience.
Cruise sells his character like a major dolt. He needs the help of others to learn about what happened to him, who an Alpha alien is and what an Omega Mimic can do — reset time. Anyone who knows the Greek alphabet may chuckle at the reference because Cage represents the beginning and end of what must be. When he’s the bully for the press, this idea is very apt. He can put an end to the war because he managed to kill an Alpha predator Mimic in his first mission.
But the wait for the final kill is tedious. The thrill of the drama is not quite there. This film is as exciting as a Michael Bay film with the loud explosions, quick camera movements, recreations of D-Day and anticipation for how Cage will die next. The laughs are light, especially when seeing Cage bemoan having to drop dead again, and sooner or later, someone will be asking the question of how many times has he kicked the bucket.
At least Bill Murray made his problems funny in his movie which ended with a great message. It shows how people should reevaluate their lives if they want to live for another day. Sadly, Edge of Tomorrow does not try to equal that. It delves more into a Harlequin sci-fi romance angle that only Top Gun enthusiasts can enjoy.
Not surprisingly, television has done a better job at creating a narrative that matters. Some people may want to compare this film to either Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s episode “Cause and Effect,” where the crew of the Enterprise sought a way out by second guessing their decisions in how to escape the time loop, or Stargate SG-1, “Window of Opportunity,” where Colonel Jack O’Neill had fun with the situation while getting a higher education so the team can discover a way to break the loop. Both are more fun to watch time and again than the derivative Edge of Tomorrow. This film is simply popcorn entertainment at best, and maybe afterwards, a few enterprising time lords might look at Day After Tomorrow to alter the palate.
3 Stars out of 5