The new trailer for Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise vehicle out June 6, starts with these words: “I’m going to tell you a story. At first, it’s going to sound ridiculous. But the longer I talk, the more rational it’s going to appear.”
Sadly untrue. I don’t expect sober sense from what is clearly a blockbuster sci-fi thriller, but Edge of Tomorrow seems like a particularly mind-numbing depiction of a super-soldier’s perpetual reliving of a single, doomed day of combat. The problems start with Cruise, who, it must be conceded, has a few indisputable merits: he has an unmatched charisma, can often brilliantly go against type and subvert his own charm, and is probably the only man over 50 who looks this good running.
But he’s also made a late-career resurgence by mailing it in. Edge of Tomorrow may just suffer from a bad script, or a bad trailer, but the movie mostly looks like Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise in a weapons suit, over and over and over again. Emily Blunt is always a welcome casting, and should imbue the narrative with some spark, but otherwise the film seems to be retreading old ground.
For one, the plot couples two shopworn tropes: the circular, stop-and-start structure of recent thrillers like Vantage Point and Source Code, and the militant sci-fi dystopia of everything from Elysium to Cruise’s last film, Oblivion. Granted, Edge of Tomorrow is based on All You Need is Kill, a critically-acclaimed Japanese novel, so these devices probably worked in print. But here they just seem gimmicky and pared down to cliche. “I’m not a soldier,” Cruise laments at one point. “Of course not,” replies Blunt. “You’re a weapon.”
Not the most subtle stuff. The silver lining is director Doug Liman, whose Bourne Identity was one of the most original and iconic thrillers of the 2000s. He also helmed Swingers and Mr. and Mrs. Smith—two movies that used sly humor to enhance their respective genres—so it’s possible that his chops will make Edge of Tomorrow a more than serviceable, and surprisingly humorous, summer action flick. We’ll have to wait until June 6 to see.