Monday, August 4, 2014

We Agree: Edge Of Tomorrow

2014, d. Doug Liman -- in theatre

My moviegoing experience was sullied by a pair of giggly teenagers interested more in killing time than watching the movie.  About 30-40 minutes of the feature were interrupted by cel-phone glare, barely-whispering, and lots of girlish tittering ill-synced to the events on screen.  I stepped up (since no one else was going to) about 20-minutes in to chide the ill-mannered children to either STFU or leave.  A minute or two later they opted to leave, but returned after another 10 minutes before leaving again another 10 minutes after that and talking loudly outside the door for another five.

I'm not going to get on my rant about teenagers (I didn't like older kids when I was a child, I hated being a teenager, I disliked most of my peers when I was a teen, and my impression of teens hasn't changed much since), but Jesus Christ the lack of respect on these kids not only for the people around them, but for the film on screen.  I digresst.

So my Edge of Tomorrow viewing got off to a bad start, and by the time I could invest in the characters and the plot, I was already behind, missing some crucial details to enjoying the full immersive experience (little details are what make great sci-fi).  You've heard it described as a sci-fi/action Groundhog's Day, and verily, it is exactly that.

David breaks down some of the plot in his review, but suffice it to say, this film actually has a rationalization for why Tom Cruise's Lt. Col. Cage returns to the same starting point in time every time he gets killed.  Not only does this looping have an explanation but it also has a purpose.  Cage has accidentally tapped into the alien enemy's key weapon, which has given them the ultimate tactical advantage.  With the guidance of Rita (an impressively tough Emily Blunt), who had the same thing happen to her in the only battle humanity has won against the invading aliens, it's trial by error training as Cage goes from being a soldier in rank only to being the fiercest warrior in the field, one repetitious day at a time, death after death after death.

It's an impressive feat of storytelling, in script and performance, to put together a story where one character advances and grows while all the other characters, by mandate, have to stay exactly the same.  At the same time, each day Cage spends with Rita, he feels closer and closer to her, as he mirrors her experiences, and he learns how to extend his time with her.  Rita keeps her distance but understands what he's going through, and how close he's getting to her, each repeating day, without being able to reciprocate.  As well, watching as Cage masters how to communicating effectively and efficiently with every passing repetition, is part of the film's joy.

It's a tremendously enjoyable film, but not a flawless one, and any real scrutiny will start to poke holes in character logic and story sense.  I also have to say I'm tired of the "hive mind" aliens that seem to dominate the blockbuster these days, the type of enemy who only require one ship to be taken out and it shuts them down ... Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and the Avengers are the two most notable offenders but there are plenty more.  It's such a trite way to end a war.