Let me get my biggest issue with Edge of Tomorrow out of the way first – its name. It has got to be one of the most unimaginative, generic, soulless names in the history of film. Originally it had the same name as the novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka it is based on, namely All You Need Is Kill, which is at least more memorable.
The good news is that Doug Liman has made a far more engaging and exciting movie than its mediocre name implies.
• Director: Doug Liman
• Exhibition: 2D/3D
• Rating: 12A
• Run Time: 113 mins
When I say that Edge of Tomorrow mixes elements of movies like The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan and Groundhog Day together, you might think this sounds like the same unoriginal fare we saw in Tom Cruise’s more recent sci-fi fare, Oblivion. Thankfully, the writers and director mix in enough of their own ideas to allow the movie to define its own aesthetic.
At the beginning of the film, we meet Major William Cage (Cruise), an army PR agent tasked with selling the world’s remaining populace on the idea that the military forces of the world can indeed defeat the seemingly impenetrable force of alien invaders known as mimics. Unceremoniously thrown onto the front lines by his superiors, Cage’s cowardice and lack of combat training quickly leads to his death at the hands (or tentacles) of the extra-terrestrial menace – but not before accidentally acquiring their ability to jump back in time a day. Forced to relive the battle again and again, Cage eventually gets help from the only other person who seems to know what’s happening to him – war-hero Rita Vrataski (Blunt) – who agrees to train him and help him fight.
Once again, the strongest aspect of Tom Cruise’s more recent projects is the woman opposite him. In this case, Emily Blunt is fantastic. She plays a strong, tough soldier who can hold her own in the heat of battle – and you believe it. Cruise is no slouch however. In one of his best roles in years, he charts the progression of Bill Cage from snivelling chump to absolute bad-ass in such a way that you never question it – it just feels right.
Over the course of their training and battles on the beaches of Normandy (see? I told you Saving Private Ryan crops up), an odd relationship develops between Cage and Rita. He ends up spending what could also be a year with her, yet every time they meet, it is her first interaction with him. The dynamic is never overwrought and does not slow down the plot.
The action set-pieces are well-designed and more importantly, clear. You know what is going on at all times. The beach scenes in particular are impressive as the sense of chaos is never lost, while at the same time, you always know what is happening. If there is one drawback here, it would be the aliens themselves. Their design feels a little too familiar – however, their threat is keenly felt.
Like any good blockbuster, humour plays an important part in tying together the characters and building your investment in them. This comes through most with Bill Paxton’s Staff Sergeant Farell, with his interplay and incredulity at Cruise’s behaviour. Even the band of misfits Cruise is shackled to for the invasion have their moments. By the time the end game rolls around, you might find yourself rather invested in their welfare.
Even if you hate Tom Cruise, this is probably the movie for you – think about it, you get to see him die, repeatedly. Edge of Tomorrow may not be the best movie of the summer so far (that honour goes to X-Men) but it is a fantastic action movie, worth your time.