Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow is the sci-fi answer to Groundhog Day that Source Code tried to be. The bombastic storming of the French shoreline like a futuristic Saving Private Ryan serves as the nigh impossible back drop for great characters stuck on repeat, striving against an enemy with a vice like stranglehold on the world.
When the ‘Mimic’ alien horde crashes into Earth in the near future, a combined human war effort resorts to mech-enhanced soldiers to hold back the furious, swarming mass of metallic octopi. When a U.S media liaison Cage (Tom Cruise) is embedded in a squad at the spear head of an attack to save the European continent he dies in the clutches of a rare ‘Alpha’ mimic. Except, life’s not over, he awakens at the beginning of the previous day and is forced to live the day over. That is until he meets the famed war hero Rita (Emily Blunt) nicknamed the ‘Angel of Verdum,’ who has some insight into his predicament.
Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Go, Mr and Mrs Smith) is the kind of filmmaker that despite the size of the project understands the importance of character. Collaborating with screenwriting team Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Jack Reacher), Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, Liman refracts this world ending epic through the hopelessly outmatched Cage. The writers use the premise and namely Cage, to its maximum potential. Beginning exclusively as a fast talking marketer for the war effort he transforms into the tough as nails hero equipped with the insight and skills to tip the scales. There’s a lot to do with a character when you’ve got the ability to call what gamers refer to as ‘respawn’ after every failure until you get it right. Liman lets you find the fun in Cage being battered over and again in training. However instead of resting on an endless cycle of a character problem solving his way through battle, we get a taste at the infinite pursuit to overcome the obstacles. Unlike Groundhog Day where you don’t know what Bill Murray’s Phil needs to do to overcome this curse, Edge of Tomorrow gives Cage understanding of that how and why. This only enhances his adventure and emotional price; living this day for what could be years, forced to watch the people in his life die over and over again.
Cruise’s does a great job not only being physically believable as a desk-jockey turned super soldier, but articulating the emotional burden. Blunt is phenomenal as Rita. There’s a strange synergy between her last two sci-fi performances. In Looper she’s Rian Johnson’s answer to Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from the original The Terminator. Completely unsure of herself, severely outmatched by the daunting responsibility of raising a potential saviour or undoer of the world. In the Edge of Tomorrow she’s once again infused with the spirit of Hamilton, except this time it’s that singlet wearing badass from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. She plays Rita as undaunted by the alien oppressors and with a balletic grace as she slices through wave after wave of the enemy. It’s in the quiet moments later as it becomes more apparent that Cage has had a vast amount of time with her there are some beautifully composed, and somewhat disarming intimate moments. What would normally be the most fleeting of appearances allows the actors to really sink their teeth into their characters. Two Australian additions to the cast Noah Taylor as Dr. Carter and Kick Gurry as Griff get their significant moments, as does the ever reliable Brendan Gleeson as General Brigham.
Edge of Tomorrow is a brainy and funny sci-fi blockbuster that, forgive the pun, will have great repeat value.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Doug Liman
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth based on the novel “All You Need Is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Kick Gurry, Franz Drameh, Charlotte Riley, Noah Taylor