Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Based on the manga comic All You Need is Kill, Tom Cruise relives death over and over in Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow.

The thought of Tom Cruise dying over and over again is one Scientology-haters could only ever dream about. Putting ‘religion’ aside, Edge of Tomorrow actually turns this scenario into a decent film that has far more going for it than one would expect. Although it has been tagged as the clichéd ‘blockbuster with brains’, it’s simply War of the Worlds meets Groundhog Day.

In the near future, mainland Europe has been taken over by an alien race called Mimics. Major William Cage (Cruise) is a PR officer working in London who has been asked to cover a supposedly safe combat mission on the beaches of France by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson). Because Cage feels this is far too dangerous for someone like him, he rejects the assignment by use of blackmail. Riled by his insubordination, Brigham tricks and forces Cage into actually fighting, despite having no training.

Upon landing on the beach, the army are taken by surprise by the Mimics and, along with countless others, Cage is killed. However, not without him killing a special-type of Mimic first – one that puts him in a time loop that makes him relive the last 24 hours. After initially trying to warn his superiors of the ensuing massacre but without success, he realises Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) went through the same experience. Together they try to end the war and destroy the alien invaders.

Like Groundhog Day whereby there’s no mention of how many times Cage relives the same day, it is clear that director Doug Liman (Mr & Mrs Smith, The Bourne Identity) had just as much fun with this concept, keeping it fresh each time. Watching Cage die on numerous occasions, and sometimes in comical fashion, is a treat, and it really does bring nostalgic flashbacks of Bill Murray counting the right amount of steps to leave a scene without being noticed.

It’s also a refreshing change to see Cruise begin with his usual cocky persona only to become completely vulnerable in a physical sense soon afterwards. And despite initial reservations of how Blunt could pull off an action heroine, it’s a credit to her acting abilities that she is able to combine beauty and brawn to take her seriously as one. The same could be said for the chemistry between the two leads – it seems like it shouldn’t work, but it does.

While this is certainly no ground-breaking film, it is not pretentious that you can’t switch your brain off, and not too brainless to keep it left on. There are, however, some gaping plot holes (Vrataski mentions she had this time loop power before but lost it – how could she know this unless she stays dead?) as well as the unnecessary forced romance. But that aside, Liman has maintained his reputation as a leading director (Jumper excluded) that can shoot action scenes while balancing the character elements.

Enthralling and funny, Edge of Tomorrow shows us that the future still has more to offer from Aliens taking over the World. And with Cruise saving it.

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