… this afternoon I watched the sf film Edge of Tomorrow. Cruise plays the protagonist. Now, granted that I only watch Tom Cruise films in order to laugh at Cruise, this movie was 450% better than I’d expected. It has perfect composition.
Perfect composition! How often do you find that in a movie?? Almost never.
Die Hard has perfect composition, and so does the kookie animated time-travel movie Meet the Robinsons (and I love it for that reason) and I could probably dig up a few more names, but still. I sure don’t look for it in a Tom Cruise vehicle.
Spoilers follow, but only mild ones:
The opening scene is merciless toward Cruise’s character (he’s a coward, no justification offered, trying to avoid danger) – that in itself surprised me and made me sit up and pay attention. The aliens look kewl. They’re blurs of lashing tentacles, always moving fast in a straight line toward carnage. Nice. The base sf idea is a good one: the aliens have an extraordinary evolutionary advantage – kill one of their supersoldier caste, and the alien hive mind automatically resets time and replays the event until the soldier survives.
… so if you beat them, they get infinite replays until they win.
The story is a perfect straight line, no subplots, no padding. No blurriness or hard-to-understand sections. Nothing to distract. Cruise’s character had to fight and fight hard, he gains big advantages, he realizes that he wants something very badly. He’s stopped being afraid by this point. He sees a way to win, and it’s simple and straightforward. Then all his advantages are taken away and the goal becomes impossible to reach.
The ending is lean. It’s not particularly indulgent toward Cruise’s character, either. I mean, he gets victory, but he doesn’t get the girl. He only gets the chance to win her if he can, and then the screen goes dark.
There are a couple of small things about halfway through that I suspect will makes me go arghh (maybe) once I come out of the spell a little, but mostly: perfect composition. Wow.