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For years, I declared to the world my love for Emily Olivia Leah Blunt, telling anyone who’d listen, “Yes, The Devil Wears Prada is that good, but you really must see Sunshine Cleaning.” And yet, I’d never seen her first bona fide action film, one in which she kicks alien ass and teaches Tom motherf*cking Cruise to nut up so he can save the world.
I was a fraud, a con artist. I was every Instagram influencer faking trips to Europe and posting #ads for belly burning teas. How could I be a senior member of the Bitches For Blunt fan club and not have viewed one of her foremost IMDb credits?
It’s been a long, hard journey toward reconciling with this most blasphemous and embarrassing of truths, but with honesty comes freedom and the chance to do right by Blunt, my fellow stans (chief among them her husband, Mr. Blunt), hell, all of England.
It’s time I watch Edge of Tomorrow.So, just a quick run-down: Tom Cruise plays Major Cage, a milquetoast PR hype man conscripted to serve on the front lines after trying to blackmail his way out of the fight. Bill Paxton is his boisterous, Kentucky-accented squad leader, and he’s absolutely perfect in the role. (Side note: It’s a damn shame we lost Bill Paxton.)
Cage meets a ragtag group of fighters labeled parasitic scum by Paxton, gambling addicts who eat playing cards and don’t practice regular dental hygiene. Cage and the rest of the team suit up in oversized metal contraptions that leave the most vulnerable parts of the human body exposed. (Shoddy design is how wars against invading alien races are lost, people.)
It takes a whole 21 minutes until Emily Blunt appears on screen. It’s a lifetime. A hellish eternity. A damn insult. But I look past this because she’s blasting aliens out of the sky and Tom Cruise is looking up at her in awe with mounds of sand in his mouth and THIS. IS. FEMINISM!
And just like that, she dies.
But then Cage also eats it and the time loop begins so the answer is no, we will not be tortured for the next hour with the prospect of no Blunt. God is real.
It quickly becomes apparent, after Emily Blunt's character explains the time loop, how she's connected to it, and what must be done to defeat the alien invaders, that Edge of Tomorrow is more than just a vehicle for Tom Cruise to once again show off his fighting prowess. Not only does this film bust gender stereotypes by having Rita (Blunt) be the superior fighter and Cage be her helpless, hapless damsel trying to survive, but Rita’s physical dominance is matched by her intelligence and her determined courage. In all ways, she is the alpha and she must mold Cage in her image. It’s a refreshing concept, even if it does mask the age-old “Chosen One” plot device that this white male hero represents.I could watch an entire film of Rita exasperatedly saying “Again” as Cage dies a painful, embarrassing death, to be honest, but eventually, Rita succeeds in training him to handle himself on the battlefield. His mission is to help her get to the Omega (the alien brain controlling the army's foot soldiers) so she can destroy it.
Cage realizes there’s no way to get to the Omega with Rita alive and no one is more depressed about that fact than Cage. Except me. I’m depressed.
And here’s where the movie diverges again. It’s Cage who can’t cope with the loss of Rita, a person he’s come to care for. It’s Cage who lets his emotions fuel his decision-making and Rita who’s able to put the mission before anything else. Is Edge of Tomorrow secretly a deconstruction of misogynist action tropes propped up by decades of generic filmmaking?
Make no mistake, Cruise is the star of this thing. He's given the most screen-time. He's our window into this world. He's the one saving-the-day. But he's also weaker, more emotional, easily-influenced, and selfish than his female counterpart. In many ways, he's the anti-hero, the guy you wouldn't expect to lead the charge while Blunt is the more traditional savior, a soldier who puts the mission above everything else. It's not that either of these archetypes is particularly groundbreaking, but they do feel fresh and interesting because their genders have been switched. It's the man needing to be saved, the man needing to suppress his emotions, the man needing someone more capable to take charge. Rita is that person, a woman who exhibits what are often thought of as masculine traits: stoicism, steadfastness, a single-minded determination to get the job done.
Of course, we know that those qualities aren't just found in men, that women can be hard and unforgiving and relentless when they want to be. But to see a film, an action film no less, demonstrate that truth is oddly empowering.
Eventually, Cage succeeds in blowing the Omega to hell, ending the war, and getting his happily ever after with Rita, who doesn’t remember him and is, therefore, as churlish and unimpressed as ever. Really, it’s the only way this film could’ve ended and still satisfied everyone.
And that’s the ultimate takeaway.
Is Edge of Tomorrow a top-10 film? Of course not. Does Tom Cruise still grate my nerves? You bet. But it is a hell of a sci-fi thriller with inventive storylines and a kick-ass heroine who defies stereotypes and doesn’t take sh*t from anyone, much less the world’s most celebrated action star.