Make love, not war. In Edge of Tomorrow there’s a bit of both, but the film balances them surprisingly well. Set in the near future and telling of a Dunkirk-esque alien invasion that (sort of) wipes out mankind, I hadn’t originally held out much hope for this sci-fi effort, as it looked derivative of past films. It manages however, to be just different enough to make it interesting.
Everything centres around scaredy-cat American Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), who is sent into battle against formidable alien adversary the Mimics, who are close to taking over the world, in a final push-type manoeuvre which goes hopelessly wrong. Due to a handy plot point, Mr. Cruise is sent back to just before the attack happens, and is able to relive the day of the battle again and again, thereby giving him another chance to learn about and beat the enemy.
But, there’s a catch – in order to keep reliving the same day in the hope of winning the war, Cage has to die. By the end of every day (explaining the film’s more marketable alternative title taken from the tagline: Live Die Repeat).
This might all sound very dark, but never fear – it’s frequently played for laughs, which lightens the tone of what could have been a grim little action film. It also helps that Cruise’s spineless wimp meets badass Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) partway through the battle.
Though Cruise does the character transition well, it’s Blunt who impresses most.
She’s quite famous on her own terms, and helps to bring out Cage’s inner fighter over time (of course he has one, he is Tom Cruise!). Their partly comical, yet gradually meaningful double act is the core of the film, and the journey they go on together does make them undergo genuine character transformations that makes Edge of Tomorrow a worthwhile movie for more than the expected action.
It should also be mentioned that the actors are superb. Though Cruise does the character transition well, it’s Blunt who impresses most. Rita is cold, distant and cynical, with only hints of vulnerability every now and again, and she has been fighting for so long that she’s learned not to believe in happy endings. Bill Paxton also has a cushy supporting role as Cage’s wisecracking commanding officer.
So the acting and the character development are both good, but what is most striking about Edge of Tomorrow is how it manages to take a tired concept and concoct something new out of it. Time travel has been used for love in Groundhog Day, and to an extent in Source Code, but now it’s being used for war instead, which is a twist on the usual formula.
This has an unnerving side, though because if ever the duo get to the end of a day and are not yet dead, in weighs the slightly macabre topic of how and when to kill each other off. However, this is a minor gripe about what is, for the most part, an action-packed and diverting, fun film.
The final scenes are brilliant, and the last one in particular just brought a grin to my face. The end credits song is also pitch-perfect (in addition to being a cracking tune in its own right). So despite my first thoughts, Edge of Tomorrow as a film was a surprise. That’s not to say that I think this should be the starting point for a whole new glut of ‘rewind’ films – the trend should end, neatly and intelligently, with this tale of Cruise and Blunt on a beach fighting metal spider alien things.
Beyond the 113 minute movie, extras-wise, the DVD has a couple of featurettes about aliens and new technology, whilst the Blu-ray boasts many more, plus an interview with director Doug Liman and some deleted scenes.
Edge of Tomorrow is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray now in the UK.