This action sci-fi movie is based upon a 2004 Japanese light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka called ‘All You Need Is Kill’, except given an American style make over that allows the audience to experience the thrill of virtual gaming. Director Doug Liman is known for making hit or miss action movies, such as “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Jumper” and “The Bourne Identity”, with his resume screaming explosions and crazy fight scenes. It wasn’t until I saw “Edge of Tomorrow”, however, that I realized that he had finally put together a movie so excellent and rich with high quality content that by the time it came out nobody initially seemed interested enough to give it a chance, which was a real shame because they missed something truly great.
The movie centres upon Major Cage (Tom Cruise) as a military PR pusher who never has set foot on a military battlefield. Unfortunately for him, Cage’s higher ups literally drag him to join the front lines in a massive assault against a powerful alien race which have taken over continental Europe. After dying mere minutes into the first battle, Cage find himself reliving the same day over and over again; somehow hijacking the alien’s power of time looping and starting over every time he dies. Now he must find Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the only soldier who knows what he’s going through, and work together to stop the aliens and use their learning skills to save humanity. Many people called this “Groundhog day” meets “Aliens” and they’re really not that far off. Much like a video game, every time the hero dies he “resets” and tries to improve to make it a bit farther.
Despite the grim premise and even darker trailers, the movie is actually quite the healthy mix of comedy and sci-fi action. Seeing Cruise playing such a cowardly character getting killed again and again and slowly learning to become a true bad ass is an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience that shows true character growth, both metaphorically and physically. You get a real first person experience by seeing what kind of war Cruise is literally being strapped into; dropping down in the most chaotic of battlefields loaded with unpredictable alien monsters and blasting them with hulking suits of cybernetic armor. It provides engaging action sequences that never feel repetitive or overdone, no matter how many times Cruise gets killed battling through them. Cruise and Blunt give commanding performances, some of their best compared to both of their most recent films.
I think what I admire most about the film is its ability to keep you deeply invested in a story that relies on constant repetition. You’ll hear so many of the same lines dozens of times and know them just as well as Cruise’s character does half way through the movie, but it’s presented in a way that it keeps the story amusing, compelling and above all else; creative. Each new “reset” brings new elements that keep us guessing how things will turn out, especially in regards to the relationship between Blunt and Cruise. Even when the ending is revealed, it still throws the old looping trick for a brand new loop that perfectly wraps the film up. I was blown away by the unique design of the armor suits and battle scenes with the aliens. The creature’s frantic designs and radical movements make the intensity of the combat feel necessary, rather than excessive like most action flicks.
My only nagging gripe would have to be the alien’s lack of relatability. They’re purely CGI based and are so frantic and wild that they hardly feel memorable enough compared to other big name movie aliens. They’re flashy but forgettable, and while it works for the story, I would have liked a little personalization on the aliens part to make the enemy feel more like a conscious thinking enemy and not just a crazy whirlwind of attacking robotic tentacles.
Overall, “Edge of Tomorrow” is an overlooked and underappreciated gem that houses some top notch work from Liman, Cruise, Blunt and the fact few people gave this film a chance is unfortunate. This is a solid, well-paced, kick ass alien explosion fest with a serious edge and a comedic streak that will leave you pleasantly surprised. Don’t let your feelings of indifference towards Cruise or Liman’s work deter you from giving this movie a viewing, “Edge of Tomorrow” is most definitely worth reliving over and over and over again.