Dueling Critics: Edge of Tomorrow

00:00 June 19, 2014
By: David Vicari, Fritz Esker
[Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures]

Fritz: We both liked Edge of Tomorrow. The preview makes it look like a hodge-podge of Groundhog Day, Starship Troopers, and Source Code with Tom Cruise doing his standard hero shtick. So why does the final product work so well?

David: I think it works because, while, yes, the gimmick is Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers, the story is well thought out and clever. It really does take the concept and follows through with it. Cruise's character has to relive the same day over and over, and that day is a pivotal battle between humans and an invading alien army. Because he keeps getting killed, which is how the day gets reloaded, Cruise begins to figure out when and where the creatures will pop out at, enabling him to prolong his life as well as that of the bad ass warrior played by Emily Blunt.
Another reason the movie works is the performances. Say what you will about Cruise's oddness in his personal life, but you can't deny that he is a fine actor. He is able to make us care about this character's plight, and he believably makes this guy morph from a hypocritical coward to a caring hero. Blunt is also very good. She is an actress that always delivers fine work, don't you agree?

Fritz: Blunt has consistently delivered solid work in a variety of genres, even though she's never had a "breakthrough" role. Since we're talking about performances, I'd like to show some love to Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson's work in supporting roles. Both men are very funny without seeming to try to be. Paxton's drill sergeant is droll without undercutting his character's intensity. And it's even funnier if you contrast this role with his cowardly headcase soldier in Aliens.

Gleeson in essence has two scenes, but in both of them, he manages to convey a lot while remaining quite still. In a Michael Bay film, that character would be mugging for the camera and going wildly over-the-top. Gleeson, like Paxton, manages to be humorous and intimidating without overplaying the part.

As much as I enjoyed the film, I felt it lost a bit of its cleverness in its final act (the last shot is a good one, though). Do you agree? If so, can you think of a way the film could have retained its inventiveness in its climax?

David: Yes, Paxton and Gleeson are great, both adding color to their characters. But yes, the final act goes into autopilot and it is somewhat protracted. Maybe they could have shortened that last act, which may have given it more urgency. Or possibly have a minor character show up with the ability to relive that day. Still, for most of its running time, Edge of Tomorrow is thrilling, funny and inventive.

Fritz: Agreed on the last point. Edge of Tomorrow is a truer "video game" movie than every previous adaptation of an actual video game. Last week, I was playing a 8-bit Nintendo game online and kept dying in random ways. I couldn't help but think to myself "This is just like Edge of Tomorrow."

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