'Edge of Tomorrow': A new day for Tom Cruise?

Edge-of-Tomorrow.jpg

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Every new Tom Cruise movie these days almost demands immediate analysis about what his latest means for him and his career. In the case of Edge of Tomorrow, the science-fiction war movie that weds Starship Troopers with Saving Private Ryan with Groundhog Day, it means a lot of fun. Cruise plays a military mouthpiece whose only job is to sell the war against invading aliens to the public, but when the commanding general (Brendan Gleason) orders him to the front on D-Day, he tries to talk his way out of it, gets demoted, and finds himself dropped on the French beach in the middle of a nightmarish fiasco. He bites it within five minutes, but not before an encounter with one of the alien Mimics leaves him with a special gift — or curse. Every time he dies, he wakes up the day before, in the same place, facing the same circumstances. Little by little, he has to learn how to survive and possibly win the war.

The film, directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) is based on All You Need is Kill, the 2004 novel by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka. It takes its cues from Groundhog Day, the karmic comedy in which Bill Murray is stuck living the same day over and over again until he finally becomes a selfless human being, as well as modern video games, with their quick-reset learning curve. Emily Blunt plays a cold and calculating war hero who might understand what Cruise’s overmatched soldier is experiencing, and Bill Paxton plays the good ol’ boy sergeant responsible for getting Cruise on the beach.

But c’mon: what does Edge of Tomorrow really mean for Cruise and his career? “He manages to show us why he still matters as a movie star — one of the last in a dinosaur species that once lorded over the multiplex like a colossus,” writes EW’s Chris Nashawaty. “Whether you loved or merely tolerated his past few efforts as a leading man, he’s never given less than everything he has. He still cares at a time when caring is dismissed as outdated and square.

Guess what? Many of the nation’s leading critics agree. The Edge of Tomorrow might be Cruise’s best movie since Collateral.

Read more from Nashawaty’s review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
Blunt is given the chance to shine as the bare-knuckle badass Rita. And she takes to the role like the second coming of Ripley. She may need Cruise’s time-bending gifts, but he needs her guts and smarts more. In a way, Edge of Tomorrow ends up being a deliciously subversive kind of blockbuster. It’s being sold to the public as a Tom Cruise movie. But deep down, it’s the most feminist summer action flick in years.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)
“Cruise will never be hip and he’s completely lacking in the irony necessary to function in modern pop culture — this is why he’s routinely mocked — but he knows no one does uncomplicated heroism better than him, and for once he’s having fun with it.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Cruise is a delight, exactly what he needs to be, fluid enough for comedy, physical enough for action, always going with the flow and yet finding ways to make moments memorable. Like Clark Gable a few generations ago, Cruise has maintained his stardom for three decades now, rarely ever making a great movie, but rarely making a bomb.”

Matt Zoller Seitz (RogerEbert.com) ▲
“Cage starts out as a Jerry Maguire-type who’ll say or do anything to preserve his comfort, then learns through hard (lethal) experience how to be a good soldier and a good man. He changes as the story tells and retells and retells itself. By the end he’s nearly unrecognizable from the man we met in the opening.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▲
Edge of Tomorrow is the ultimate metaphor about Tom Cruise’s career. You can’t kill this guy. He’ll just keep coming. And he remains arguably the biggest movie star in the world for a reason. He brings it.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (The A.V. Club)
Edge Of Tomorrow’s main attraction is this near-seamless blend of star, structure, and setup. Its deft pacing, canny design, and sense of humor make it easy to overlook the fact that it mostly glosses over the implications of its time-loop premise.”

Justin Chang (Variety)
“Crucially, the scribes … tell their story in a breezy narrative shorthand (and at times, sleight-of-hand), transforming what must surely be an unbelievably tedious gauntlet for our hero into a deft, playful and continually involving viewing experience. Among other things, Edge of Tomorrow is a movie that slyly teaches you how to watch it.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)
“Aided by the crackerjack cutting prowess of editor James Herbert, Liman skillfully conveys the endless repetition without making Edge of Tomorrow repetitive itself. He quickly, and often amusingly, cuts to the chase of each sequence, during each of which Cage tries to nudge reality just a bit further in the direction of survival…”

Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“Eventually, Mr. Liman’s eccentricities and the morbidly funny neo-screwball vibe that he establishes are swamped by generic pyrotechnics and noise. That’s predictable, given the high studio stakes and the industry’s faith in spectacles of destruction, but it doesn’t obliterate the movie’s pleasures.”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)
“After such a promising start, Edge of Tomorrow reverts to the usual formula of huge special effects and a race toward a specific target that must be destroyed in order to kill all the aliens at once (why do … extra-terrestrials always bring with them the single thing that can wipe them out? Couldn’t they have hid it on Jupiter or something?)”

Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)
“Gleeson and especially Bill Paxton as the troop leader [contribute] a healthy amount of levity for this sort of fare. But these guys essentially disappear in the late-going, leaving it to the stars to do the heavy lifting during the least engaging section, making for a sense of considerably diminished returns.”

Edge of Tomorrow
Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 71
Rotten Tomatoes: 89 percent

Rated: PG-13
Length: 113 minutes
Director: Doug Liman
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Distributor: Warner Bros.

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