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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Life + Arts

The Cougar Reviews: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is a clever action movie

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

“Edge of Tomorrow” is a clever and competent action movie with great acting and funny writing. In spite of some final act missteps, the movie consistently manages to blend a myriad of different genres with never a moment of dissonance or confusion.

At times, it’s a comedy of errors, then a war movie, then an action movie and even a spy movie, yet every part is entertaining.

“Edge of Tomorrow” follows former U.S. Major William Cage, played by Tom Cruise,  into battle on the frontlines in a war against aliens known as mimics, when the soldier gets stuck in a time loop.

From there, Cage, along with Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataski and Dr. Carter, played by Noah Taylor, figure out how to find the mimics’ brain and destroy it to win the war.

“Edge of Tomorrow’s” writing is, on one hand, nothing special. but the interactions and consequences of repeated dialogue consistently feels clever. A character predicting what someone else will say always has something of a juvenile thrill to it and, though it is a cheap exploitation of the time-loop movie gimmick, it’s a fun gimmick.

“Edge of Tomorrow” is filled with moments that aren’t really clever the more you think about it, but fulfill that clever feeling excellently.

The movie isn’t self-aware per se. There is no distinct fourth wall break, the characters are always fairly reasonable in their actions, yet the entire film seems to poke fun at itself.

Bill Paxton plays a sergeant whose lines are overly flowery – partly to draw attention to the repeated versions of the lines – but in equal part to rib at his countless other appearances in war movies.

Every character in the movie is an archetype, but they’re each interesting enough and believable enough to just play itself reasonably straight to maintain a comedic tone.

Sstructure is not “Edge of Tomorrow’s” only strength. The movie has some fantastic alien design.

The aliens are completely detached from any real life animal, but they have recognizable faces. The alien’s design and speed works best when the alien is leaping from soldier to soldier, pushing them as if this were some horrific perversion of Arkham combat.

The aliens do somewhat lose their weight by the second half after the audience has seen so many, but that may have been inevitable.

While “Edge of Tomorrow” deserves praise for its ability to create something entertaining and original out of the recycled parts of other movies, this feels like it comes to a head by the last quarter.

The movie tries to up the stakes once the time loop gimmick has been done away with, but it just doesn’t work. If anything, the stakes feel lower because it’s so predictable.

The appeal of having a time-loop movie is that the audience knows the main characters will succeed, but don’t know when or how. This takes that away because it’d be highly unlikely for the movie to end on a sour note, so the main characters must succeed on the attempt that you’re seeing onscreen.

To make the video game analogy, it’s the difference between anxiously watching someone trying to beat a stage versus watching someone play through quick-time events. None of this is to say that this ending is particularly bad, but it takes away the most entertaining aspect of the story with nothing to replace it with.

And the less said about the forced final kiss between the main characters, the better.

All in all, “Edge of Tomorrow” is a cut above your standard action fare with plenty to enjoy about it. The cast and the writing shine by working together perfectly. It devolves by the end, but not enough to dampen the movie as a whole.

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