#WomenInAction Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Year: 2014
Runtime: 113 minutes
Director: Doug Liman
Writers:Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth (based on the novel “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka)
Stars: Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise, Bill Paxton

By Erica Richards

As I contemplated what to write about for #WomeninAction month, I was worried and skeptical. Action films just are not my thing. I do not dislike them, I just do not particularly seek out action films. I realize how important women representation is, especially in action films–where male dominance is so obviously prominent. I took this opportunity to reflect on the “action” films I have seen; what resonates with me and the women in those films? Why? Then, I wanted to seek out a new action film with a badass woman, and approach it with a new perspective.

I recently watched “Wonder Woman” (2017) and absolutely loved it. Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill” (2003) is just simply fun to watch. As a 9-year old I was obsessed with “The Matrix” (1999) and even chopped off all my hair because I wanted to be like Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss). Is “A League of Their Own” considered an action film? Because that is my favorite film of all, and its core is centered around women playing baseball. Maybe I do enjoy “action” films.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow (2014) © 2013 Warner Bros

The women in these films are fierce, bold, and fearless–all things I wanted to be since I could walk and talk, and what I continue to strive to be every day as an adult woman. I still seek out women characters who have these characteristics in other types of genres. So why is it that as an adult woman, I do not really seek this genre when I so desire to be like the women in these films?

“I realize how important women representation is, especially in action films–where male dominance is so obviously prominent.”

Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow (2014) © 2013 Warner Bros.

I was recommended “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) specifically for Emily Blunt‘s character, Sergeant Rita Vrataski. I adore Emily Blunt, so I was all in for giving this a watch. The premise of this story is a groundhog’s day type of set up–the main characters re-live a single day on a loop. Rita is strong, both physically and emotionally. She is incredibly smart. She makes Cage (Tom Cruise) take a back seat as they attempt to conquer a world where humans are at war with a specific type of alien.

“Rita is not sexualized throughout this storyline. That might be what makes her so sexy.”

One of the things I loved most about Rita is that she is just plain better than Cage, and she loves to remind him of that. In one scene where Cage is strapped down to a bed in a medical facility, he accidentally flips his cot over while trying to escape. Rita shows up to get him out and tells him–”I was out of those things in three minutes flat, Cage, what is wrong with you?” The energy between the two inevitably grows into a romantic tone, but it is not initially perceived to be romantic and sexual. Rita basically seems uninterested and it is clear that Cage is the one who is smitten by her first. They are equal in their quest to defeat the aliens and that is what makes their dynamic so appealing. 

Rita is not sexualized throughout this storyline. That might be what makes her so sexy. The moments where we see her and Cage meet again and again might be the only scenes where we see the most skin showing from hers. Her cold and persistent greeting of his appearance, “yes? What do you want?” never changes and provides a perfect bookend to the film and her character. Even after all the two characters have been through, the audience is sure she might remember him and let her guard down. She does not–and her unwavering approach is bold and empowering. She stands down for no one. It is incredibly satisfying. 

“Rita basically seems uninterested and it is clear that Cage is the one who is smitten by her first. They are equal in their quest to defeat the aliens and that is what makes their dynamic so appealing. “

Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow (2014) © 2013 Warner Bros.

As I set out to strengthen my knowledge of film in all aspects, I vow to make the action genre more of a priority. The experience of an action film is fun, fast-paced, and entertaining. A true cinephile never completely writers off a genre and can appreciate a story and film for what it is. Bring on the strong, kick-ass women! 

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