Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Edge of Tomorrow is based upon Hiroshi Sakurazaka book All You Need Is Kill, from 2004 and it's a shame that the movie did not retain that title. Edge of Tomorrow is a somewhat bland and generic moniker. Mercifully the film itself is a cut above your usual blockbuster Sci-fi release. The screenplay written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem) offers a tight and gripping narrative which quickly establishes its premise and makes it continuously engaging. Dubbed "Groundhog D-Day" by certain pundits, the story of history repeating itself is presented in such a fashion as to be intriguing rather than repetitive.
Tom Cruise plays a reluctant military officer William Cage who find himself leading a major offensive against a group of what appear to be bio-mechanical Cephalopoda, who are attacking worldwide. He is not a seasoned soldier, coming from a military PR background and subsequently dies in combat. However through a curious side effect of being exposed to the dead aliens precious bodily fluids, he find himself in a time loop in which he continuously repeats his final day. Furthermore he is cognisant of this temporal anomaly and tries to learn from his mistakes and change the outcome of the time line.
The first two thirds of Edge of Tomorrow are inventive and absorbing. The production design and overall ambience are well conceived. The battles look authentic as various global landmarks are reduced to rubble. It is also nice to see Tom Cruise play against type. He does not start the story as a generic hero and is in fact somewhat unlikeable. It is in the final act that the narrative becomes a little less logical and more contradictory. Prior to this point, Cage and his cohorts have persevered through meticulously learning from their prior mistakes. Suddenly their approach changes to one of greater improvisation, which does seem somewhat incongruous.
However director Doug Liman handles the film with sufficient originality making Edge of Tomorrow his best picture since The Bourne Identity (2002). The supporting cast featuring such quality character actors as Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton adds immensely to the proceedings. Furthermore Edge of Tomorrow is not just a cinematic vehicle for Tom Cruise. Emily Blunt more than holds her own in the role of Rita Vrataski, the seasoned veteran who he continuously learns from.
Overall Edge of Tomorrow is happy to be a smartly contrived Sci-fi action movie, that sticks to its own remit. Therefore viewers shouldn’t expect the wider social themes of films such a Minority Report and Starship Troopers. What you do get with Edge of Tomorrow is a surprisingly superior action movie featuring quality set pieces, good performances and an engaging narrative. Time travel can be a tricky plot device if poorly handled but that’s not a mistake that Edge of Tomorrow makes.