Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DVD of the Week: Edge of Tomorrow

I may have mentioned that I spent last week in India, which meant that I spent a lot of time on a plane to get there. The upside of being cramped into cattle-class for up to eight hours at a time was that at least I got to catch up on a couple of movies that I hadn't seen. The in-flight magazine was really, really keen on getting me watch Transformers: Age of Extinction, but given that the trailer has enough dumb in it to concuss a Robot Dinosaur, I decided to spare myself that pain, and indeed that of my fellow passengers would probably have to listen to be complain about it. So on the outward flight I settled in with Edge of Tomorrow, which underperformed at the box office yet seems to have picked up a bit of a reputation for being actually rather good.

At first glance Edge of Tomorrow has one big thing going for it, in that it appears not to be a remake, franchise movie or superhero adaptation. Sadly this turns out not to be the case, and in fact it's an adaptation of a comic called All You Need is Kill, which is actually a pretty cool name they should have kept. Actually the movies' tagline, "Live Die Repeat" is also a better title, as would be "They Keep Killing Tom Cruise And Its Pretty Funny". So the basic setup is that Aliens have invaded the Earth in that way Aliens are prone to do, and they're kicking our asses, only there is this big offensive planned that is D-Day, really, because we've all seen Saving Private Ryan. Tom Cruises; smarmy rear-echelon type annoys the wrong General and ends up sent to the front, just in time to get killed with all his squad on the beaches. And then he wakes up, and has to do it all again.

Yes, it is the plot of Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. Every review seems obliged to say this because it is totally true.

Onto this bare-bones, ultra-high-concept setting is however a pretty entertaining movie. It's played quick and tight, interspersing it's action sequences and exposition with montages of Tom Cruise getting killed. Cruise himself remains an actor who I find annoyingly watchable - Cruise the celebrity is a horror-show but here again he's versatile and likeable, and handles the transition from smug asshole to hardened combatant pretty well. Emily Blunt likewise manages to give enough subtext to her ultra-competent soldier to keep above the cliches, whereas the rest of the cast know they're cliches and just have a lot of fun with it.

One major misstep aside - random and unnecessary love plots annoy me - Edge of Tomorrow is a slick and polished action flick that delivers on what it is setting out to do, no more and no less. Its a double edged achievement; it's not weighty, it's not saying anything, but at the same it means it is hitting all the beats that it wants to. It's just a lot of fun, and non-ironically can probably stand up to repeat viewings.