Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #452
Number of Views: One
Release Date: May 28, 2014 (London IMAX), June 6, 2014 (United States)
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $369,200,000
Running Time: 113 minutes
Director: Doug Liman
Producers: Erwin Stoff, Tom Lassally, Jeffrey Silver, Gregory Jacobs, Jason Hoffs
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Based on All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Special Effects: Dominic Tuohy
Visual Effects: Nick Davis
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
Score: Christophe Beck
Editing: James Herbert, Laura Jennings
Studios: Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, Viz Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor, Kick Gurry, Dragomir Mrsic, Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Franz Drameh, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Masayoshi Haneda, Madeleine Mantock, Tony Way
Suggested Audio Candy
 Christophe Beck “Angel Of Verdun”
 Jon Newman “Love Me Again”
 Christophe Beck “Find Me When You Wake Up”
Any keen gamers amongst us will be only too aware of the dreaded respawn point. Just as it appears that we are getting to grips with the oncoming alien invasion and making significant progress towards our next checkpoint beacon, a stray bullet will tear through our tattered armor and return us swiftly to sender. The respawn is both a blessing and a curse in equal measures. Gone are the days where we are forced into playing an entire level from scratch and, instead, it represents the baby steps necessary to complete our objective. It fast becomes an exercise in short-term memory as, each time we are unceremoniously snuffed out, we are required to retain our route and learn of the numerous pitfalls which lay ahead. Eventually, often through sheer bloody minded endurance, we move on and repeat the process until we earn that highly sought after medal of valor.
Gaming is fundamental to Edge of Tomorrow. Based on a manga novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka named All You Need Is Kill which, itself, owed its very existence to video game respawn points, it allows us to slacken our grips on the trigger and soak in what is effectively an extended 113 minute cut scene. The concept of reenacting the same day on perpetual loop is nothing new and Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day and Duncan Jones’ Source Code are two of the better-known examples of this premise in action. However, Doug Liman’s film approaches the subject from a different perspective, gifting us a big-budget sci-fi extravaganza with all the customary bells and whistles but more than one trick up its lengthy sleeve.
The entire project was risky from the very start. Liman has been responsible for a number of Hollywood blockbusters over the past decade after bringing us The Bourne Identity and his résumé is littered with peaks and troughs. While Mr. & Mrs. Smith turned a reasonably tidy profit, Jumper struggled to make any kind of return and, by the time Fair Game floundered at the box office, it appeared as though his number may well have been up with regards to helming big hitters. The notion of looping a series of unfortunate events is not for everyone either, myself included, and it was hard to imagine what would set this apart from the numerous films to have already tackled the concept. As if not precarious enough, the inclusion of Tom Cruise in the leading role must have had the executives sweating shrapnel.
There was a time when the name Tom Cruise acted as a rubber stamp of guaranteed quality and everything he touched invariably turned golden. Then it all turned on a sixpence for the poster boy of Hollywood. Oprah’s couch evidently didn’t help his cause and his cringeworthy public proclamation of love for soon-to-be spouse, Katie Holmes, signaled a significant downturn of fortune which was only set to get worse. By the time Holmes cried wolf and fled their seemingly happy home for fear of anal probing, his fate was sealed, and pariah status beckoned. What has happened since then is truly remarkable to me. Outside of the long-running and still bankable Mission Impossible franchise, no Cruise movie has grossed over $100m in American receipts and he is no longer regarded as a lucky charm. This always dumbfounded me as, when you look at the pedigree of the work being churned out, its evident that he is still more than aware of how to choose astutely. The problem now is that his name is no longer the endorsement it once was for the general public to shell out.
Looking back over his career, which has spawned nearly forty movies already, I simply cannot spot a dud. Even the much maligned Rock of Ages was, by absolutely no means, a stinker and after a five-year stint in supporting roles while his ears burned and name became dirt, he rolled up his sleeves and got straight back to what he does best. I ask any naysaying mud-slingers this: do you actually like movies? Should it matter whether or not Cruise is a firm believer of Scientology or is it better to judge the man by his output? Has he ever visited our homesteads personally, pulled down his breaches, and taken a tepid dump in our granola? I cannot speak for everyone else present but I don’t even eat granola. Why should it matter a jot whether he is a tad eccentric, if he shits gold bullion whilst tickling our pleasure receptors without exception? It’s time the whole world got over their gripe and, judging by the fact that, after a decidedly shaky start, Edge of Tomorrow eventually turned its mightily deserved profit, it appears that the penny is beginning to drop. Let’s hope so, for Tom’s sake and for all of us who take pleasure from the ultimate source of escapism.
Since approaching fifty, Cruise has been obsessed with saving the world and many of his works have pitted him against insurmountable odds, demanding every last drop of his blood, sweat, and tears in the process. He is clearly an adrenaline junkie and, for scaling the outside of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa tower, without a stunt double for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, he has my eternal reverence. However, for at least the first act here, this is a very different kind of Cruise to what has long since become customary. His silver tongue is still present and correct as he attempts to manipulate himself out of a steadily worsening situation to no avail. But the existential fear in his eyes makes it very clear that he’s frantically paddling sub aqua like the proverbial swan, and doesn’t relish the prospect of shouldering the weight of global expectation yet again one iota. In short, he’s a wuss or, to quote his interminable wake-up call, a maggot.
Of course, we know it isn’t going to last as the whole affair entails learning your lessons and, after a torrid start, he gets to puff out his chest once again. It’s almost ironic that he chose this part as it will have been a major selling point to some that we would be enabled to share in dozens of his on-screen demises. What is also noteworthy is that it affords him the chance of showing a little vulnerability and nobody can accuse him of not possessing a sense of humor. The early exchanges are priceless and Liman makes the very most out of wringing laughs out of a fairly alarming set of circumstances. Considering he started his directorial career with the glorious Swingers, it should come as no surprise that he manages to locate the funny bone so effortlessly, and this supplies a lighter tone which serves Edge of Tomorrow remarkably well.
The writing is imperative to this working effectively as is some masterful editing and both the director and his star’s exquisite comic timing. In addition, we are provided with a drill instructor plucked from the very heavens above in the guise of Master Sergeant Farell. Bill Paxton gave us one of the most quotable fallen heroes of eighties cinema with Private Hicks in Aliens but this time he’s not the one screaming “Game over man” but instead the scowling mustached face greeting the ill-fated Cage at every continue. Paxton spews forth plutonium and is supported by all manner of spirited grunts and toe tags in waiting. The ever dependable Brendan Gleeson and Noah Taylor, both of whom had worked with Cruise previously, also pop up in gloriously distinctive capacities but the main focus is always our leading man.
Having said that, it is required that he be someone else’s bitch or, at least, until he gets to grips with his flight plan. Here, Edge of Tomorrow makes each respawn count as the Full Metal Bitch in question, Special Forces paladin Rita Vrataski, provides the perfect foil and prevents this loose cannon from breaking formation. Emily Blunt gives an account of herself that is beyond creditable and we buy into both her über-competence and weary realization at every single turn. The film has been criticized for its decision to hint at romantic involvement and to that I say ptooey. Should I be forced to learn every solitary facet of an optically appealing suitor’s stimulation then, chances are, I too would lean in for a final kiss before marching to almost certain doom. Just because it’s Cruise, it’s no longer okay and that saddens my soul. People conveniently forget that he has a penis and I’m also fairly assured that Blunt is in possession of a vulva, and likely a tidy little condo it is too. Let the kids have their kicks I say.
After toying with us sufficiently through often gut-busting rewinds including the dos and don’ts of performing a combat roll beneath a moving vehicle, Liman reels us back in, reminding us that the fate of the entire free world still hangs somewhat dubiously in the balance. The threat to international security comes in the shape of a highly evolved alien race and, critically, the Alpha and Omega strains. Twenty-four hours is a long trek between checkpoint beacons when the enemy are constantly one step ahead of the game and the vexed sentinels procrastinate not in making their presence very much known.
Liman has $178 million in the kitty and every red cent is sprayed across the screen with all manner of lavish set pieces. However, he resists against making the alloy destroyers the prime focus and instead they become more irritant than anything else. I state this in my very chirpiest tenor as the reason for this is that we are fully invested in Cage’s plight unerringly. Besides, a sequel would elaborate further and, should that happen or not, Edge of Tomorrow represents a pretty wholehearted success in my eyes.
The clues have been there right along where Cruise is concerned. Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher and Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion provided ample proof that this man has returned to his A-game and, the truth is, it never really eluded him. However, while both performed disappointingly theatrically, and despite the fact that Edge of Tomorrow is still regarded as something of an under-achiever, at least monetarily, it is good to see folk starting to regain some perspective. If you asked me for the finest cinematic veal of 2014 then, chances are, Liman’s ludicrously entertaining epic would dance from the tip of my tongue with the loose feet of Kevin Bacon in his heyday lean. Ultimately, I don’t give a flying maggot fuck what Cruise gets up to behind closed doors as, over thirty years on, he’s still making kick ass movies. Continue? Yes. Live. Die. Repeat.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 9/10
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
© Copyright: Rivers of Grue™ Shadow Spark Publishing™