“Live. Die. Repeat.” The tag line turned mantra for Tom Cruise’s latest science-fiction action thriller is not officially endorsed by Scientology, although many religions would probably find a nugget of truth in the thematic content at play in his latest sci-fi blockbuster, Edge of Tomorrow.
Perhaps this stems from the Groundhog Day plot device of reliving the same day over and over again. According to the late Ghostbuster and director Harold Ramis, Bill Murray’s comedy classic was adopted by many religious orders staking their claim in the film’s open-ended philosophy and series of everyday epiphanies.
Edge of Tomorrow is based on the Japanese light novel, All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The futuristic military thriller dials into a Groundhog Day predicament as Major William Cage (Cruise) becomes locked in a cycle, appearing at an army base and dying on a battlefield again and again. He quickly discovers that his efforts to reach out for help are in vain and crosses paths with warrior angel Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Blunt). Together, they try to find a way to end the war against the alien insurgents known as Mimics.
Dying is no joke, but knowing you’re destined to wake up to the same day is a cruel twist of fate that makes the rinse-and-repeat process risk-free, somewhat convenient but mostly irritating. Instead of going Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man, he uses the time loop to augment his soldiering and dedicate his unique situation to fighting the future.
“This mission just got even more impossible!”
Director Doug Liman (Mr and Mrs Smith, The Bourne Identity) knows how to balance tongue-in-cheek comedy and full-tilt action and uses this to good effect in Edge of Tomorrow. We’re airdropped with Cage, blasting alien scum in a Normandy-inspired invasion and then laughing as our would-be “Starship Trooper” realises the limitations of his luck and skill.
You’d imagine recycling the same scene to be repetitive in a bad way, but just as Source Code demonstrated, there are many ways to inject suspense and create tension. Liman taps into the swirling plot and then branches out in all directions as Cage tests the limits and searches for alternatives. Just like Groundhog Day, Source Code and About Time, each hero has a complicated predicament, an uncanny ability and an unrequited love interest.
Don’t worry, Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t degenerate into a gooey romance… after all, this is a Tom Cruise film. The romance is handled subtly, even more so than Matt Damon’s Dharma & Greg style overtures toward Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau. Doug Liman’s film is more about tough love, embracing Cruise and Blunt’s unexpected chemistry and adding to the wide array of genres and overall entertainment value.
Tom Cruise is in fighting form, acting as though he hasn’t aged a day since he played Maverick in Top Gun. He’s always committed to be all he can be, even if things aren’t quite going to plan as in the underwhelming, Oblivion. Luckily, Edge of Tomorrow has more sci-fi meat – weighing in just under Minority Report for scope and quality.
Emily Blunt is simply kick-ass as the “Full Metal Bitch”. We don’t doubt her exo-skeleton action exploits for one minute and she gives Cruise a run for his money as the real action hero. She’s every bit as convincing as her gruff character in Looper and brings a stern, yet charming warrior woman to life opposite Cruise. They’re backed by the amusing Bill Paxton and domineering Brendan Gleeson, who add weight to the supporting cast.
While Edge of Tomorrow has some synergies with many other films, it’s execution is fresh and it builds on the shoulders of these films. There’s no built-in franchise or pre-existing Western audience to activate here, unlike many Hollywood prequels, sequels and remakes. This puts it in a similar situation to Pacific Rim, armed with a $200 million budget, impressive effects with the exception of it’s secret weapon… quintessential movie star, Tom Cruise.
It’s the sort of blockbuster that gathers momentum as more are enthralled by its epic spectacle, thought-provoking story, high-end production values and high calibre performances. Whether you like Tom Cruise or not, Edge of Tomorrow is a film you should make a point of seeing.
The bottom line: Enthralling
*Catch a special pre-release screening of Edge of Tomorrow in 3D with Spling at SK Cavendish 8pm, Thursday 12 June.
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