Edge of Tomorrow came out in early June. It looked like standard sci-fi nonsense, so I was determined to skip it. It was deemed a box office disappointment, but it lingered at theaters. I heard some people were surprised by how much they liked it, so I added it to the list of movies I wanted to see. Edge will end its run here on Thursday, so I was determined to check it out.
I will admit that I enjoyed Edge much more than I anticipated. I liked the film's energy, and I was surprised that it was humorous at times. Tom Cruise's William Cage isn't necessarily likable, and he's inexperienced in combat ("I don't even like the sight of blood," he tells Brendan Gleeson early on in the film). If you've seen the trailers, you know that Cage has to relive the same day over and over again. It's Groundhog Day if Groundhog Day was about an alien race destroying mankind.
As Cage realizes what is happening to him, one of the recurring images is of a bus driving by with Emily Blunt's character embossed on the side. She has a huge blade slung over her shoulder and the title FULL METAL BITCH scrawled next to her war-weary face. As Cage keeps repeating going into combat, we see her face more and more. I wanted the movie to be about Blunt's Sergeant Rita Vrataski, and I will tell you why.
When Cage goes through an invasion on the beach for the third time, he sees Blunt's Rita, and she tells him to "find her when he wakes up." He eventually does, and she begins to train him. It turns out that she went through the same recurring process when she went into battle. The baddies in Edge are called Mimics, and getting doused in an "Alpha" Mimic's blood will cause you to reset the day over and over again. It happened to Rita when she went into battle at Verdun, and she was able to kill thousands of Mimics. She became the face of the war against the invasion, but she lost the ability to reset when she received a blood transfusion. The more Cage resets, the more Rita trains him. Eventually, Cage becomes an experienced fighter, and he and Rita set forth to take down the Omega to stop the invasion.
Let's get one thing out of the way. I am not necessarily a Tom Cruise fan. He's a capable action hero, but he's no longer an Everyman. I don't think people really want to see him in this kind of film anymore. Would it be so bad to reverse the roles? Couldn't this story have been Blunt's Rita resetting and becoming the hero? By the time Cage has become a serious soldier, Rita takes a step back and becomes sort of the sidekick to Cage. I don't care about Tom Cruise becoming a better solider. I am the first to admit that Blunt is one of my favorite actresses, but it feels like they don't know what to do with her. She was a secondary character in Looper (even though I thought she was great), and now she has to play second fiddle to Tom Cruise.
When we first see Full Metal Bitch, she seems rather mysterious, and Blunt doesn't talk for the first brief scenes she's featured in. Why would you take a potentially great female character and relegate her to Tom Cruise's kind of love interest. Oh, yes, she becomes a love interest by the end. When William and Rita take a moment to talk before they go in to destroy the Omega, they kiss. It comes out of nowhere. I oddly though of When Harry Met Sally... when they locked lips. I guess men and women can't be friends...especially when they are battling an alien race. Every time Cage meets Rita again, she is on the floor on her stomach and she looks at him straight in the face. Each time it softens more and more. Are you really going to go from Full Metal Bitch to Full On Swooning when you see Tom Cruise walk through the door?
People have been crunching the numbers about this summer's disappointing box office numbers. Would Edge of Tomorrow have done better if Cruise and Blunt switched roles? Surely, there would have been talk about Cruise taking second billing to Blunt, a lesser household name. I bet the story of the "Angel of Verdun" would have been a lot more interesting than Cruise blowing up aliens.
Again, I had a decent time while watching the movie, and I'm glad I put it on my list of blockbusters to see. Maybe I'm partial because I love Blunt so much, but perhaps Edge could have been a surprisingly good summer escape and a showcase for a great actress.