As summer action movies go the 5th instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise is a fun couple of hours in the cinema. From the spectacular, vertiginous opening set-piece, which almost equals the Burj Khalifa climb from the previous film, to a finale which pays of some well placed character beats, the film hits all the notes that you would expect from Cruise’s ongoing answer to Bond. Like the rest of the series it’s also a fully formed whole with new villains and the actors effectively playing themselves (if you’ve seen Simon Pegg before then you know Benji and don’t need to catch up on the other movies etc) with some well placed humour at their expense (Cruise’s height is well used).
Its also all pretty much replaceable and nothing really seems intrinsic to the film. Many of the stunts could easily be swapped out with something from the previous films… apart from the first movie because that was something special and during a magnificent Opera based sequence, meticulously set up and executed, it’s De Palma’s daring flourish and skewered reality that’s missing.
But I’m moaning about something being great fun rather than spectacular.
Since I’ve been old enough to go to the movies by myself I’ve seen every Tom Cruise film in the cinema (with the exception of Lions for Lambs (2007) which didn’t come to Guernsey). That’s 19 films that I’ve looked at and thought ‘that looks interesting’. They haven’t all been great but they all had something, even if it was just Cruise himself who is a genuine movie star; something that I can’t quite define but, like pornography, you know it when you see it.
That star quality is used brilliantly in Edge of Tomorrow where it is once again mixed with that curious and rewarding Cruise habit of playing jerks. Here he plays a military PR guy, all Jerry Maguire grin and bluster, who refuses to film the first wave of a D-Day style assault against an alien invader and is busted to private and placed in the front line of a highly mechanized army. He inevitably dies but awakens 24 hours earlier and is forced to repeatedly relive the invasion… so we have a mash of Groundhog Day (1993), Source Code (2011) and Starship Troopers (1997).
The great news is that it’s actually a really good movie. Like the films it follows it doesn’t stop long enough for the repetition to feel repetitive in the tiresome sense and it’s exo-skeletons, guns, chases, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and all that jazz. On the Cruise-o-meter it’s right up there with the best of his summer movies if not quite War of the Worlds (2005).
1. Not sure how reliable this is but here’s a link to spoiler heavy blog post about the different versions of Edge of Tomorrow – http://rafjordan.blogspot.com/2014/06/all-you-need-is-kill-and-maybe-tom.html
2. Bill Paxton.