The “Groundhog Day” concept has been used so many times that it can be difficult to find a new way to present the idea. Edge of Tomorrow manages this by being well-plotted and having a decent story with plenty of intense action. It also helps that the lead is Tom Cruise.
Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t feel like a typical Tom Cruise movie. The super-spy from the Mission Impossible movies plays a reluctant soldier, not used to combat and sent to fight in a battle against some very well-designed aliens. After contact with an alien, and subsequent death, Cruise wakes up and begins reliving the day he died, forcing himself to find a way to break the cycle.
How a “Groundhog Day” film does the initial moments of realising you are reliving the same day over and over can make or break the film. Edge of Tomorrow handles this the typical way, cutting down scenes, only replaying what it had to and building onto each subsequent, same-but-different day with added and subtle details. The real innovation on the well-worn concept comes when Cruise is battling the aliens, thrown into a battlefield initially as a terrible soldier, he slowly becomes well-trained and capable because he is reliving the experience with little to no fear. The scenarios become more like replaying the same videogame level over and over and watching the character go from no-hoper to action-hero is compelling.
Add Emily Blunt as the bad-ass soldier training Cruise and helping him solve his mystery and you have an effective science-fiction movie. Blunt works well alongside Cruise and also against type, being much more of the action star than we have really seen before. Her part in the story is also an interesting one and adds depth to the “Live Die Repeat” concept.
The action the two actors have to go through is staged perfectly and there are some fantastic set-pieces. The films sets up some great battles, adding layers to the main conflict but then developing plot points further and adding some more, cooler sequences as the story progresses.
As with anything as high-concept as Edge of Tomorrow, once you have cracked the concept and moved past the initial hook, it is difficult to keep the momentum and originality. Once Cruise has worked out the mystery of his repeated days, the film does become very generic science fiction and the finale doesn’t quite match the best parts of the initial act of the film. Add to this the issue that “Groundhog Day but…” has been done plenty of times in many different forms and at times the movie lacks originality.
Overall, Edge of Tomorrow uses a well-worn concept and adds an extra level of depth which just about manages to make it feel original. Cruise and Blunt handle action duties well and are involved in some well-staged moments. The movie doesn’t quite sustain the originality though and is let down in the finale.
Rating – 4
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