In the not too distant future, aliens have landed and are decimating Earth. When Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) refuses a mission to go to the frontline, General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) has him arrested and charged with being a deserter. Cage fins himself on the frontline anyway and, when an ambush goes horribly wrong, he finds himself on the edge of death, with the peculiar talent for repeating the same day over and over again.
Based on the novel All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow has many elements that scream ‘instant hit’; Tom Cruise, aliens – named ‘mimics’ here – Emily Blunt being a badass warrior soldier and a version of time travel. Edge of Tomorrow combines elements from Groundhog Day, Source Code and video games into one tightly scripted, visually impressive and surprisingly funny whole.
Tom Cruise takes a break from playing his usual character, and steps into the role of a man uncomfortable in the world he finds himself in, and a man who is definitely not cut out to be a hero. In fact, for the first 30 minutes or so of the film, Cruise spends much of his time running away from the action, rather than toward it. Emily Blunt takes on the role of Rita (AKA The Full Metal Bitch); an experienced soldier who has seen too much to show much to be soft, and has an obsession with bringing this war to an end. Blunt and Cruise spark well together on screen, their chemistry is great, their comedic and action timing works great and, without the requisite romance being shoehorned in between them, the characters are free to explore the world without becoming obsessed with the other.
Bill Paxton has a great turn as the fast talking, no-nonsense Master Sergeant Farrell, and brings comic relief to the tense world that Cage finds himself in, every time he wakes up. The rest of the cast is made up of Brendan Gleeson as a strict army General, Noah Taylor and Sherlock’s Lara Pulver.
Although Edge of Tomorrow is based on a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – the film title was changed from the arguably better All You Need is Kill – it is more inspired by the story in the book than an adaptation of it. Screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth have made Edge of Tomorrow a film that is as action packed as it is funny, and make sure that Cruise dies in a manner of imaginative ways. Rather than rehashing the day over again from the start each time, the screenplay takes a tip from Groundhog Day’s book, and picks up in the day when there is new information to be had. In this way, the audience keeps their interest, and the film becomes increasingly more like a video game; when Cage reaches a part of the day he hasn’t experienced before, he invariably bites the bullet. There are times, however, where the story is little predictable, and the ending leaves a heck of a lot to be desired.
Director Doug Liman takes the story and runs with it, making the set pieces thrilling, the aliens super intimidating and Tom Cruise the most hilarious coward we have seen in years. The film is nicely paced and, while Blunt and Cruise sizzle together, there is rarely any attempt to squeeze in a romance for the sake of it. And thank god for that. Blunt kicks ass all on her own, and does not need the love of a man – no matter how great a soldier he becomes – to validate her.
Edge of Tomorrow is a fun, funny and thrill packed action movie that reminds us of just how great Tom Cruise can be, when he doesn’t try to be ‘Tom Cruise’. Blunt kicks all kinds of alien ass, the set pieces are the right combination of funny and exciting and the time travel never becomes too confusing. Edge of Tomorrow would be in the running for one of the top blockbusters of the year if it were not for Brendan Gleeson being criminally sidelined, and an ending that made me want to get sick into my own scorn.