Edge of Tomorrow Review
As Tom Cruise slams into the ground in full body armour with a weapon he can’t even control, all around him is death, chaos and confusion in a scene reminiscent of World War II’s D-Day invasion. Basically Groundhog Day at war, swap Bill Murray’s humorous attempts to improve his day, for Tom Cruise becoming a well-oiled killing machine trying to save the world, and you’ve got Doug Liman’s Edge Of Tomorrow.
Set in the not too distant future, Earth is losing a war against an alien race and is desperately searching for a way to win. In the mist of the world banding together against a common enemy, we find Major William Cage; a cowardly US army publicist who “isn’t really a solider”, played by action star Tom Cruise.
When Cage refuses to go to the front to film inspiring footage for the army’s recruitment campaign, he’s arrested as a deserter and sent to London’s temporary military headquarters to be deployed with the first wave. Striped of his rank and with no actual combat experience, Cage is terrified he won’t survive 5 minutes, and he doesn’t… until he wakes up back at military headquarters before the invasion has even begun.
You’d imagine it would be very difficult for a film, which repeats so much of its story to be so gripping, but from beginning to end Edge Of Tomorrow constantly has you invested and interested in what’s happening. Every time Cruise dies is another opportunity to see a completely different version of the story - something most other films can’t claim. Even knowing Cage will wake up doesn’t take the thrill out of it because you soon learn that although it always starts out the same way, there’s no way you can predict what will happen.
Usually films which deal with changing the past come up against a magnitude of contradictions, which can bog down a movie in complicated explanations. Thankfully, Edge Of Tomorrow can skip all this as Cage isn’t time travelling, the day is literally being reset. Liman stops this getting repetitive by only giving audiences a taste of what it’s like for Cage, so that you don’t realise you’re not living every day with him until told otherwise. That’s not to say Cage’s job is easy. Even with knowing what’s going to happen he comes up against some unbelievable challenges.
Unlike a lot of action blockbusters, Edge Of Tomorrow doesn’t need cheesy one-liners and over the top explosions to keep the audience interested. As odd as it sounds given the presence of aliens, time loops and full body battle armour, a lot of work has gone into creating a realistic depiction of war, thanks mainly to a fantastic opening battle scene on the beaches of France. Having said that, any special effect junkies out there shouldn’t worry as they’ll still get their dose of incredible visuals too.
The time and effort that went into creating the ExoSuits is totally worth it. Not for a second do you question the weight and power the soldiers carry into battle with them, and it’s in the mist of the invasion that Cage sees Rita Vrataski for the first time. Also known as the Full Metal Bitch, she’s a wartime hero who’s a ruthless Special Forces warrior and a symbol of Earth’s one and only victory.
Played by Emily Blunt, her performance is so convincing that you’ll find yourself questioning if this is the same actress who appeared chick flicks such as The Devil Wears Prada and The 5-Year Engagement. Blunt is beautiful as the battle-hardened solider who uses Cage’s ability to try and win the war, and despite the literally world-ending implications, at no point does her character feel overacted or melodramatic.
To say Tom Cruise is no stranger to action would be an understatement, and he steps up once again in Edge Of Tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean he’s the hero of the film. Unlike Vrataski, Cage isn’t interested in sacrificing himself to win the war; he’s just been unlucky enough to gain this unusual ability and is trying to do the best with it he can. We even get the chance to see Cruise play the coward, and it’s both cringe-worthy and a joy to watch his cheesy grin trying to persuade General Brigham not to send him to the front.
Thankfully any romantic angle between the pair hasn’t been overplayed. In fact the connection between Cage and Vrataski is more of a deep friendship (the kind you imagine can only be forged under extreme circumstances); made all the more weird by the fact that only one of them can remember it. Despite the gloomy context of the film, they even find time for a few moments of well-placed humour.
The supporting cast includes Brendan Gleeson as the General who has no time for Cage’s spineless whining, and Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farell - the no nonsense American drill sergeant who’s determined Cage will redeem himself by dying on the battlefield. Both were excellent casting choices and both play their parts with ease, adding to the story rather than distracting.
Nevertheless, even Edge Of Tomorrow isn’t without its flaws, although admittedly there are few and far between. It’s pretty convenient that Rita Vrataski has been through the exact same thing as Cage, so we don’t have to spend most of the movie with Cage being sent to psychiatric wards and/or being dissected him. And Liman does opt for a less than catastrophic ending, which sits slightly uncomfortably with the rest of the film, but the fact that audiences will barely mind just goes to show the quality of everything that’s come before.
With action heroes and aliens, time loops versus war and comedy mixed with senseless death, Edge Of Tomorrow really has got it all. One of the best action films to hits cinemas in a while, it leads the charge with this year’s big blockbusters and is not to be missed.