Corrie and Nate review the new scifi film, Edge of Tomorrow. Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) and stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.
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Okay, I'm gonna start out by proclaiming my undying love and respect for the acting and films of Tom Cruise (except Vanilla Sky and Jerry McGuire because fuck everything Cameron Crowe has ever done).
Cruise is himself a renowned film lover; In a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon he claimed to watch as much as a film a day. His decades in Hollywood and status as a Class A Film Geek have clearly provided him with good instincts and impeccable taste and, as such, he is incredibly selective about the projects he chooses to be a part of. Not only this, but one always gets the feeling that he throws his entire focus and self into every single role he commits to. Who out there doesn't think he stole the show with his performance in the otherwise underwhelming Tropic Thunder? I really don't know much, but one thing I do know is that Cruise loves cinema and seems to get a real kick out of being a part of the kinds of movies that he would want to see. The dude just really loves his job, and in this respect, he's kind of the Joss Wheadon of actors. Just sayin'.
Anyway, frothed-up, fanboy fawning aside, Edge of Tomorrow is a perfect example of what we in The Biz refer to as "fucking kick ass". Full disclosure: I have an unhealthy obsession with all films that revolve around time travel and/or time loops (including everything from Back to the Future and Groundhog Day through to Time Crimes, Source Code and the breathtakingly complex yet down-to-Earth Primer). I have no choice in this fascination – I simply find myself helplessly captivated by all things time-based and get a real kick out of watching the inevitable paradoxes unravel, complicate and resolve as the writer(s) work tirelessly to bring a satisfactory sense of completeness to the tricky business of scripting these kinds of stories.
Now, I'm well aware that I haven't seen every time travel film ever made, but I've definitely caught a great goddamn lot of them and the one common element shared by all of the films that work is that they remain consistent within the rules of their own universe. It doesn't matter in the slightest how far-fetched (or utterly ridiculous) their individual explanations behind the mechanics of time travel may be; the only thing that counts is that when they choose to provide an explanation, they fucking stick to it. This is why Looper was a big, fat, steaming mess and Groundhog Day wasn't.
Now, I am probably in the minority here, but I personally love it when novelists get all up their own asses explaining the hypothetical science behind their fiction but it generally doesn't translate into the most gripping viewing. The best cinematic explanations are almost exclusively simple.
- Back to the Future: Flux capacitor + 88mph.
- Time Crimes: Big mysterious machine in a building.
- About Time: Every male of this particular family can simply do it by will alone.
- Source Code: Can only be explained by a big, fat spoiler (trust me, though, it's simple).
- Primer: Watch the movie twenty times and get a degree in engineering.
- Groundhog Day: Just 'cause.
With the exception of the aforementioned Primer, it seems to me that the simplest explanations are the easiest way to maintain logic and plot consistency in a very challenging genre. When you've only got about two hours to tell your story, focusing less on the science and more on the plot, characters and fiddly cause-and-effect seems to yield more satisfying results.
The mildly satisfying explanation provided for the time travel depicted in Edge of Tomorrow certainly isn't rocket science but it doesn't need (or claim) to be. I won't go into specifics here because I really do believe that everyone who is even remotely interested in Cruise, time travel/time loops or sci-fi in general deserves to walk into this movie spoiler-free, but the important thing is that the actual mechanics themselves are an integral element of the plot. Much like in Groundhog Day, the time loop is itself a conflict which needs to be understood and surpassed before the plot can move toward a resolution and it simply works. I felt that the ending could have been more satisfying and a whole lot darker but this is really just an issue of taste. I'll give my thoughts on this another time in an article or post that I haven't claimed to be 'spoiler-free'.
There we go, I have now officially ranted and raved about Tom Cruise and time travel cinema for too long. The real problem with discussing this film is that there isn't a whole lot more that I can say without delving too deeply into the plot. I mean, it's not perfect: One or two of the members of the supporting cast are truly awful (yet only onscreen for a thankfully short period of time) and as stated above, I think it could have used a stronger, more ballsy ending, but in general this movie hit every mark that it aimed for. When the action sequences hit, this movie is a legitimate spectacle and when it's funny, it is truly fucking hilarious.
Tom: Keep filtering through those unproduced sci fi scripts to bring us the best of the genre!