After a mysterious, alien race invade Earth and take the majority of Europe, a final grand assault is planned to launch from the coasts of Britain. Ordered to the front line of the assault, media relations Major, William Cage, is caught in the disastrous massacre that follows, only to find that he has the ability to live the day over again and again. With the guidance of a legendary solider that once lived through a similar experience, Cage is the last hope for humanity to find the invaders’ weakness and win the war.
There are certain amounts of the people in the developed world take umbrage to the fact that a film might star Tom Cruise. It might be his past popularity, him private life writ large, some daft things that he says, his output to date or his personal beliefs, but whatever the reason, some people will simply not watch his films.
I guess big love will always bring with it big hate, but it should be taken into account that missing out on a treat because of personal prejudices can be a little foolish.
Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster, Edge of Tomorrow, based on the Japanese novel, All You Need Is Kill, and directed by fan favourite, Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourn Identity, Mr and Mrs Smith), is most certainly one of these treats, a sci-fi war-epic that is near faultless in it’s execution.
That’s a very grand statement to kick-off a review, but believe me when I say it’s well deserved. Some Cruise science fiction outings, such as Minority Report or last year’s Oblivion have a tendency to feel rather hollow, and with a film as high concept as Edge of Tomorrow, which basically amounts to a sci-fi-war Groundhog Day, such hollowness could be a very real trap to fall in to, but a combination of the clear and intelligent screenplay, co-written by the excellent Chris McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Way of the Gun), the expertly judged direction and some great acting coalesce to craft one of the slickest, smartest and exciting sci-fi films for a good long time.
What’s notably commendable about the writing is that it doesn’t go into detail about things it doesn’t need to and instead concentrates on the characters and their personal struggles, which, luckily, encapsulate the collective fates of humanity. So, do we need to know the agenda of the invaders or where they came from? Apparently not, all we need to know is that this one last attack is humanity’s last hope.
Having not read the source material it’s hard to know how closely the two stories resemble each other, but many of the other influences of Edge of Tomorrow are worn on its figurative sleeve. The Groundhog Day thing is obvious and one difficult to escape from, though a legitimate comparison nonetheless, but its other major influences, both thematic AND aesthetic, contribute just as much. Think of this film as equal parts Groundhog Day, Saving Private Ryan, Starship Troopers and Warhammer 40,000 (and if all four of those references mean something to you, you probably shouldn’t miss it).
For Liman’s part he’s created a film of strong emotion, yes, but impeccably well balanced, pace wise, with frequent but short bursts of action permeating a complicated but cleanly told story. It would be easy, with such a frenetic pace of editing for the story threads and characters to get muddy, but they literally never do. It’s been crafted in such a way that almost every single scene is required to propel the narrative forward; there is very little in the way of dead weight or chaff.
Assisting this is the brilliant FX work, both physical and CGI, which are blended together (on the human side of things) imperceptibly, so you don’t question for a second the reality which you are faced with, a reality rife with chunky battle mechs, massive guns and bigger swords. These seamless effects realise remarkably well thought out and badass action set pieces that only build and get better as the film progresses. What is a little more jarring are the aliens, or ‘Mimics’ who, though as fantastically realised as anything else in the film, look and move in such abstract ways that they just draw attention to their very differentness, but I’m pretty sure this will smooth out with repeated viewing.
The cast, who as well as Cruise includes Emily Blunt (looking intimidatingly yet attractively ripped), Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson, are on very good form, all adding gravity and fun to the proceedings.
Though not the most original film you’ll ever see, Edge of Tomorrow is respectfully derivative, not to mention smart, entertaining and visually spectacular, a film that is nearly flawless in respects to its own intentions. Highly recommended to sci-fi aficionados and the popcorn crowd alike.
B grade – for originality
A- grade – for storytelling
A grade – for visuals
A grade – for action
Overall grade – A-