Edge of Tomorrow Film Review
It would be hard to describe the billing of Edge of Tomorrow as anything other than Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. On paper that doesn’t sound too bad. Recent forays into time-looping have also been pretty worth while with Looper and, in particular, Source Code each offering successful servings of something genuinely refreshing to the concept.
The main question marks were whether Edge of Tomorrow could provide similarly clever ideas. Particularly when director Doug Liman’s last attempt at a sci-fi thriller was the disastrous Jumper in 2008. Could the Liman find some form and produce a smart action film akin to his earlier work in Mr & Mrs Smith and Bourne Identity? Thankfully, a pretty emphatic yes.
The film revolves around Lt. Col. William Cage (Tom Cruise), a cowardly PR strategist for the US army who is hell bent on dodging any combat during an invasion from aliens, known as Mimics, that are sweeping through mainland Europe. Cage’s arrogance pisses off the wrong people, however, and he’s sent to the front line on the coast of France to fight while donning an uber-weaponised exosuit. Only 5 minutes into the battle and Cage suffers the inevitable fate and loses his face.
The film, luckily, isn’t that short, however. And here’s why: Cage awakes from death in the same spot he inhabited only 24 hours before and again must face battle. Of course, he’s still the same coward he was the first time round, only a little more curious. As you would expect he dies again and again but each time regeneration coincides with becoming a little stronger and a little wiser. Much like fighting the big boss man in Mario Bros. With the help of incredibly fit, in more ways than one, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage must first escape the beach and then save the world. Obviously.
It should be said that seeing Cruise play a coward is extremely refreshing. He’s rarely played the anti-hero and very rarely someone so dislikeable. This is all without losing the charisma you associate with the veteran. Of course, he transforms into the hero soon enough but it’s not without reason and isn’t rushed.
The time-looping is also inventive and makes perfect sense throughout. The humour served up by Liman and Cruise means that the million-ways-to-die never becomes tiresome and allows for good pacing in the editing room. It’s not just in the deaths where the humour comes through – there are touches littered throughout the script with Vrataski also known as the “Full Metal Bitch” and T-shirt slogans of ‘Mimic This’, for example. It takes itself seriously enough to get invested in whilst always giving the knowing wink to the audience – always a good idea in a blockbuster.
The relationship between Cruise and Blunt also makes for interesting viewing and on paper is extremely difficult to balance: a one-sided relationship where he knows her but she doesn’t know him. Liman deals with it well ensuring Blunt never becomes too familiar but gives enough glimpses to depth of character. And here is where the main problem comes – there isn’t great character development. This is also partly due to the relentless pace of the plot and action sequences.
The film doesn’t suffer too greatly though and the pace is no negative. It never drops in intrigued and the plot bounces along nicely. The Mimics themselves are also excellently designed. They’re intimidating, sinister and possess all the kinetic energy of a kid on blue Smarties to match the frantic pace of the action perfectly. Although they do seem a little mechanical for an ‘alien’. The fact that Cage fails and dies so much does take away the peril somewhat, however, and the ending scene also feels a little underwhelming given the quality of the earlier beach battle at the start of the film.
The unmemorable ending can be forgiven, though. This is an imaginative and entertaining sci-fi with humour and energy. In many ways, it took big guts to make this film. Casting Cruise as a coward, playing with grand ideas such as time-loops and creating original aliens is no easy feat. The anarchy is also controlled and Liman’s creativity in structure, tone, and design in a genre that has sadly been lacking in recent years is refreshing to say the least. We think you’ll want to see it as many times as Lt. Col. Bill Cage gets offed.
Edge of Tomorrow Film Review: 4 Stars