Movie of the Week: Edge of Tomorrow

I like the 1993 comedy movie Groundhog Day. It tells the story of a misanthropic weatherman who is stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive the day again and again. But he is the only person who is aware of this phenomenon and who remembers the previous instances of Groundhog Day. Over a long time and hundreds of repetitions he slowly becomes a nice person and wins the heart of his lovely assistant which finally breaks the loop.

When I saw the trailer of Edge of Tomorrow it immediately reminded me of Groundhog Day. The movie promised to be a science fiction and action take on the same idea which appealed to me a lot. But as Silke and I often don’t feel like going to the cinema anymore (high ticket prices, not enough leg room, ridiculously expensive soft drinks, etc.) we waited for the Blu-Ray release which finally came out last month.

In Edge of Tomorrow an alien species called Mimics has invaded earth. Their sheer endless number of fast and powerful warriors have worn down all human military forces and conquered most of Europe already. Major William Cage, a PR specialist working for the US military, who tried to blackmail a superior officer to avoid a dangerous assignment suddenly finds himself with a combat unit that is going to take part in the invasion of continental Europe the following day. Branded as a deserter he receives no support from his unit and enters the battle on the following day without any combat training. The invasion turns into a massacre for the human forces. The aliens seems to expect the invasion force and manage to contain it at a beach. In the resulting slaughter Cage’s unit gets wiped out until finally Cage himself dies while blowing up an alien. In the next moment Cage is alive, unharmed and back to the previous day. He remembers the invasion including his own death but nobody else seems to. Cage tries to warn his superiors but nobody is listening to him. He is again forced to take part in the invasion and dies another death which returns him back to the previous day once more. This cycle keeps repeating while Cage is frantically looking for a way out. He finally meets Rita Vrataski, a hero of the Earth defending force, during the battle. Rita immediately seems to understand what is happening to Cage and asks him to contact her after he has returned to the previous day. Together they try to find a way to use Cage’s extraordinary ability to defeat the aliens and save mankind.

The Edge of Tomorrow is a very good action and science fiction move. Aliens that actually look and act alien, impressive fighting scenes and a clever time travel plot all contribute to that. But there is also room for the human aspect. At the beginning Major Cage is a slippery opportunist who only cares about himself. But the crucible of the time loop slowly turns him into a hero and somebody who actually cares about the people around him. It is very commendable that the makers of this movie managed to preserve the essence of Groundhog Day this way.

The Edge of Tomorrow definitely met my high expectations. Prior to watching the film I wasn’t convinced that Tom Cruise was a good choice for the lead role. But the role fits him like a glove and he plays the character very well. Overall I wish there were more science fiction movies like this one which combine a good plot with impressive special effects.