I LOVE Groundhog Day. I think its the most inspirational movie ever made (yes, even more so than It’s A Wonderful Life) and it’s also one of the best screenplays ever written. Just think about how immensely difficult it is to craft a story where the same day is not only repeated over and over again, but somehow the secondary characters must evolve and complete their arc in that day as well. Miraculously, Groundhog Day pulled it off, and Edge of Tomorrow, its distant time-resetting cousin from the sci-fi movie Thanksgiving table, pulled it off too.
In Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise stars as a high-ranking U.S. Army publicist guru, a warrior of words who simultaneously uses his natural charisma to promote the war against aliens while doing anything at all possible to avoid fighting in it. But Cruise is unexpectedly thrust into battle and after killing an alien, gains the ability to relive that same day, over and over again. Well, it’s not so much an ability, as he has to die for the day to be reset, leading to countless headshots from his colleague Emily Blunt, a decorated soldier who used to have the time-resetting gift. Their partnership is one based on desperate dependence which grows into mutual respect, and serves as the emotional core of the film. Watching Cruise mourn over Blunt even though he knows she will come back to life in just a few hours is a sight to behold, adding some unexpected but welcome emotional heft to this film.
A single day repeating over and over is a concept that could easily grow stale. Luckilly, Edge of Tomorrow jumps around the page and battlefield enough, showing us all facets of its time-looping universe as reluctant Tom Cruise morphs into an honorable Tom Cruise, with apathetic Tom Cruise, surly Tom Cruise, and maniacal Tom Cruise waving hello in-between. Blunt is phenomenal as well, smart and brash, a phenomenal soldier and character in every sense. But Edge of Tomorrow benefits greatly from Bill Paxton, who lends his talents as a drill instructor pushing Cruise’s buttons and bullets before deployment. He’s the kind of instructor you’d never want in boot camp but would love to get a beer with after you complete basic training. A small but memorable role that makes this little sci-fi film that much more special.
Edge of Tomorrow wasn’t a success on its first release. The movie’s title was changed for its home release to Live Die Repeat, never a good sign of a film’s brand value. There was a significant lack of buzz leading into Edge of Tomorrow, with really the only people seeing it being sci-fi junkies, people who watched the trailer, or people who read good reviews. Which is a shame, because Edge of Tomorrow truly is wonderful and won’t get the appreciation it deserves. At the same time, it makes Edge of Tomorrow feel like a hidden gem, like a password you’d speak to a bouncer outside of a respected sci-fi nightclub. Even if you don’t watch it today, there’s always tomorrow.