Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Source: IMDb

Source: IMDb

Released: June 6, 2014. Directed by: Doug Liman. Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton. Runtime: 1hr., 53 min.

When it comes to summer blockbusters, there are three kinds of anticipation. The ones that muster excitement and they satisfy; the movies that you get excited for but they bring disappointment; and the ones that you don’t have high expectations for, because high-concept science fiction so often just stays that way – a high concept with bad execution. I’m looking at you, Transcendence.

But sometimes, those high-concept movies get great execution and just blow you out of the water, because it actually is good. That’s the category Edge of Tomorrow falls under.

The story follows Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a man who tries to get out of duty by blackmailing a General (Brendan Gleeson). The General doesn’t like that, and he puts the untrained Cage into battle against an alien race called the Mimic. It’s a day much like D-Day, but this time the baddies have the edge.

When facing sure death, he is able to adopt the power of the Mimics: the ability to restart the day. He is given another shot to win an unbeatable war. To do so, he needs help from the poster girl of awesome soldiers, the Full Metal B**ch herself, Rita Vrataski. She also found herself in a similar situation when she led the victory at the Battle of Verdun. Rita will train Cage in an attempt to win the war, and create the perfect soldier out of him.

This film is a lot smarter than anyone might expect it to be. It handles the time loop effect perfectly in a mildly easy to follow narrative. It weaves in a great sense of humour into the superbly shot and ridiculously fun action sequences. The humour is helped out by Tom Cruise and a great Emily Blunt. Cruise offers a vulnerable, wide-eyed and charismatic performance.

The film’s helped out by great writing by Christopher McQuarrie and the Butterworth brothers, adapting the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. McQuarrie’s humour is evident in the screenplay.

The films blends a great training movie with fun sequences, and aspects of Groundhog Day – notice the same the female protagonist name, Rita – to form a refreshingly original blockbuster. It’s surprisingly not a repetitive film, as it finds new and creative ways to re-shape every days – even if we’ve seen the dialogue before.

A bothersome aspect is why Cage is forced into combat, when he recruits a few million soldiers for the war as an apparent military marketer. He’s an average guy plunged into a crazy situation, and since he is only experienced in marketing, he has to be trained to win this war. It’s a funny aspect to the narrative.

Also bothersome is how run-of-the-mill the ending feels to the rest of the brilliant picture. Saving it is superb visual effects and a great chemistry from the cast. Even if the ending isn’t perfect, it’s still a film that can be enjoyed repeatedly.

Score: 85/100

Jack Reacher (2012)

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher

Release Date: December 21, 2012

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins

Runtime: 130 min

Tagline: The law has limits. He does not.

A homicide investigator, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.

Yes, the plot is as simple as it sounds. But it’s effectively simple. It seems that McQuarrie adapts the novel, ‘One Shot’ by Lee Child, very well. While the story is as simple as mystery/thrillers get, it is exciting, and it’s a mystery that often keeps you guessing who is innocent, and who is guilty.

Unfortunately, the simple plot can get silly, and there are a few holes in the story telling. The motive of the baddies is stated, but it is never explored or even fully explained. They’re just up against Mr. Reacher.

Initially, there was some skepticism behind the casting of Tom Cruise, a miniature 5-foot-7 man, playing the 6-foot-5 brute from the novels. There’s a pretty large difference between the two statures. Because, hell, if Reacher is 6-foot-5, I’m Michael Jordan playing basketball poorly. It’s just not something you’re going to believe. Anyway, the end product is superb. Cruise kicks major ass, and after seeing him do it so well, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the shoes of a not-so-over-bearing Reacher.

This is a mystery/thriller that should be treasured during this century. It’s an incredible simple mystery that has some real old-fashioned action sequences that hold you by the throat. Cruise’s undeniable charisma and the helpings of funny lines make it that much more enjoyable, and it holds one’s attention even more. If you ever start to find yourself uninterested, don’t worry, there’s probably a chase scene or a fight scene just around the bend. Hang in there!

The supporting cast help out with carrying the flick, too. Pike is just mighty sexy, and she’s a great British actress to watch. Richard Jenkins is great in just about everything he does, also. Robert Duvall offers more than a few funny lines, and his role is great for that. There are many other performers there, but this is very much Cruise’s show – and no one steals that from him.

If there’s anything better than Cruise himself, it is probably the interesting cinematography or the more-than-unsettling opening scene. The camerawork and there are some nice angles worked into the feature. In the opening scene, the viewer sees all the victims get shot. Right through the scope of the man’s sniper rifle. It goes over everyone the man is planning to kill, and it does it to the sound of his heavy breathing. It is mostly suspenseful because you do not know who he is going to choose. It is one of the most grippingly suspenseful scenes of the feature, and there are only a few other scenes that are better than it.

In a nutshell: Jack Reacher is a very fun mystery action/thriller that offers solid entertainment and more than a few memorable action scenes. The plot is effective and there may be some holes in its story, but that really doesn’t get in the way of enjoyment during. The surprising bites of humour make it that much more and enjoyable, and I am pleased to welcome this old-fashioned-lives-by-his-own-rules investigator to action cinema.

75/100