This weekend, Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt is released. The film, about an alien invasion that requires Cruise to die repeatedly in a loop, has been gathering a huge about of positive press and looks set to make a mark on the box office.
I must admit, many months ago,when first seeing the trailer I thought it was proof of a complete lack of originality in Hollywood science fiction and told anyone that would listen that it was going to be nothing but a Frankenstein’s Monster of The Matrix, Source Code, District 9 and Groundhog Day. I would cynically declare that the only thing it would be good for is demonstrating the phenomenon of Tom Cruise looking younger than he did in Minority Report, twelve years ago, whilst his leading ladies stayed the same age. I had made up my mind about Edge of Tomorrow at that early point and left it there.
That is until the last couple of weeks ago in which our nation has been bombarded with billboards, bus posters, TV spots and chat show appearances from the movie I thought I’d never hear from again. Any Cruise film is likely to have bucketloads of publicity but this has been a pandemic. The word of mouth started to filter through and to my great surprise was hugely positive. Edge of Tomorrow has been said to be great fun, entertaining and unique, a true achievement for the summer Blockbuster. Matching this information up with the statistics (8.4 rating on IMDB and 95% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) I am all but ready to book my ticket and get to ready to enjoy two hours of guilt free, blockbuster action, but…
When browsing through any cast and crew my eye naturally looks upon the director before anybody else. Spending many a day researching the autuer theory and writing essays regarding directors has left me eager to always see who is at the helm of a new movie. When seeing Doug Liman was directing Edge of Tomorrow I was pleased, he is a solid, competent director. He began the Bourne franchise, directed the very funny Swingers and brought together Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on Mr and Mrs Smith. His filmography speaks for itself and he’s very versatile so what’s the worry? My worry was that within my memory bank I had repressed his last foray into science fiction. I had completely forgotten about going to the cinema in 2008 and sitting through the cinematic mess that is Jumper.
The worst thing about Jumper was I couldn’t wait to see it. Based on a book by Steven Gould it told the story of people who can teleport all over the world but are persistently pursued by Paladins (a group of religious extremists) who attempt to stop them from “being everywhere at once”. I thought Hayden Christensen deserved another lead role after the Star Wars prequels as he had been singled out by the fans as a massive scapegoat for the trilogy. He gave a very solid performance in Shattered Glass and it seemed he just needed to be cast in the right films. With Samuel L. Jackson and the always likable Jamie Bell surely this was going to be a new franchise in the making, wasn’t it?
Unfortunately, the main problem with Jumper is that is plays like a 90 minute trailer to a franchise that will never be produced. It took so long to explain the hugely complicated notions of “Jumping”, “Paladins” and “Jump Scars” that it forgot to have a story beyond the very weak narrative of Samuel L. Jackson repeatedly going after Hayden Christensen. Then, by the time the movie gets going and we are introduced to Hayden’s mother Diane Lane in the last five minutes, who is also revealed to be a Paladin, it’s over. It just stops, and no one, anywhere is expecting this film to garner nearly enough money to make the sequel that probably would have been ten times better than this film.
I remember reading in Empire Magazine that whilst interviewing Doug Liman, he wrote them about eight rules on jumping and how the mechanics worked. It was a great touch, but at no point are these rules really explained in the film. We have some exposition from Jamie Bell, but then its just Hayden Christensen on top of Big Ben or taking the abysmal Rachel Bilson to Rome for some sight seeing. Jumper could have been a sensation but there seemed to be too many things in the way. A sense of indulgence, a confused script and a story that commands multiple films seemed to sour something that had promise and however unlikely it may be, condemned Christensen’s actor career further.
It seems silly and closed minded not to see a movie because of one past film in the director’s oeuvre. It certainly looks like Liman has learnt from his mistakes and with a better cast and a coherent script it doesn’t look like it could go too wrong. The more I look online, the more positive the word of mouth reviews are and it is fantastic that we have some ‘surprise hits’ matching up to the X-Men and Godzilla‘s of the movie world. Although Edge of Tomorrow is hardly small budget, it’s an original(ish) idea that looks like a good, honest blockbuster. To judge director’s and actor’s on past roles can be an error, surely they should all be watched without bias and hopefully Edge of Tomorrow will be as great as people are declaring.