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Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Not quite perfect, but darn close.
The dialogue, direction and editing often leave something to be desired, as do a few of the supporting players. One in particular seems to think he's in a different movie. And the ending, while fitting and satisfying, could have benefited from better lighting. Most of these problems stem from inexperience rather than incompetence, and forgiveness is easy. Next time will be even better, right?
That aside, Edge of Tomorrow is by far the best "blockbuster" movie since the heyday of Spielberg. It is intelligent, clever, exciting and fascinating. This movie seems determined to treat its audience with respect, something that doesn't go unnoticed and unappreciated.
Cast-wise, the 50-something Tom Cruise amazes as the still utterly believable coward-turned-action man, Major Bill Cage. Emily Blunt's bitter war hero, Sergeant Rita Vrataski is simply superb. Brendan Gleeson's weary-but-determined General Brigham is unnerving yet sympathetic, and Bill Paxton's Master Sergeant Farell is a real hoot.
Cruise and Blunt realistically portray characters who are (and have become) tough and heroic only as a result of long and bitter experience. Anti-superheroes, you could say. The transformation of Cruise's Cage is particularly well-handled, but Blunt's Vrataski is his equal in every way.
They are all clearly having a lot of fun with the opportunity to constantly tweak the same lines, even when much of that dialogue ought to be better.
The production and art design does an marvelous job of evoking a genuinely anxious and desperate war time vibe, one too rarely seen and felt in modern cinema. All the London of this movie needs is a bit of Vera Lynn and some portraits of Winston Churchill for completeness.
It may be that this very obvious non-American focus is the reason Edge of Tomorrow failed to catch alight in the US market. Cruise is the sole American lead, and he spends much of the movie as a gibbering coward, confused and bewildered, while an international army laughs. This is not Captain America.
On the other hand, it could be just that this movie was lost in the usual seasonal deluge of big, loud, and mind-numbingly stupid blockbusters.
Whatever the reason, it's a shame, because Edge of Tomorrow is a genuine classic.