Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Film Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Hate Tom Cruise? Then Edge of Tomorrow is the perfect film for you - you'll get to witness him dying again, and again, and again...

Seemingly out of nowehere, Edge of Tomorrow is actually one of the best summer blockbusters this year. Don't believe me? Your loss...

Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise as Major William Cage, a high-ranking US officer who works in PR as a way of avoiding direct combat. Combat? Is there a war or something?

Well, yeah. The film is set in a dystopic future where humanity is waging a war against an alien invasion force (dubbed 'Mimics'). For the past five years, the Mimics have steadily marched across Europe, with Britain the only remaining country on the continent standing firm. WWII motifs much? Well, buckle up son, they're about to get larger.

The allied human forces (dubbed the UDF, United Defence Force) are on the verge of leading a counter-offensive on the beaches of Normandy in an effort to push the Nazis, I mean the Mimics, back. When Cage's commanding officer, General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), conjures up the idea of sending him onto the frontline to boost morale and put a positive spin on the war, Cage decides the best plan of action is to politely, and foolishly, decline.

Booted down to the rank of private and branded a 'deserter', Cage is shipped out to the frontline to prepare for the looming invasion. Within 24 hours, he's on the beaches complete with mechanical exo suit and zero field experience. By some fluke, Cage manages to kill an Alpha, a really big Mimic, before he's killed. Rather than just die like everyone else, Cage somehow wakes up 24 hours prior and is forced to live through the same day again. Where he is suitably killed once more. And then he wakes up again. Then he dies again. Wake up. Die. Wake up. Die. Wake up. Die...

You get the picture. Essentially, he gets stuck in a time-loop, forced to live through the invasion over and over until he can find a solution, along with the help of Emily Blunt's hardened warrior Rita Vrataski. And let's be honest, there are plenty of worse, less-attractive women to be stuck in a time-loop with...

Blunt practising a yoga pose I understand to be
known as 'the squashed worm'
If this sounds fairly simplistic, it's because I don't want to give too much away. It isn't undue hyperbole to proclaim Edge of Tomorrow as one of the best, most well-crafted, layered and complete science-fiction films of the last decade, let alone the year. I'd put it up there with Moon, Looper, even Inception.

With a concept such as a time-loop, you'd expect the film to be repetitive or dull. Not the case. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) handles the concept brilliantly, with the film racing along at a speed that never sees the narrative grow tired or stale. Once the audience is onboard, whoosh, it zooms off to tackle the next step. In fact, the film is often two steps ahead of the audience, jumping ahead to keep them on their toes. It's fast-paced, but not in a way that people will struggle to keep up - it keeps you invested and hooked on where the plot will go next.

Given that we see the same invasion recreated every single day, you'd also expect the action to be tiresome. Again, this isn't the case as Liman continually switches the focus back and forth between the thrilling battle sequences and developing the lead duo of Cruise and Blunt.

Together, the duo are the undoubted highlight of the film, with both being given roles that are well written and surprisingly original. Cruise plays a coward, completely against type for a clean-cut all-American action hero such as himself. It's refreshing, and even better, his character undergoes a satisfying and balanced arc.

On the flipside, Blunt is cast as the established hero, a grim and tortured war veteran with brains to match her brawn. The most pleasing aspect of her character is that no mention of her being a woman is made. She just is what she is what she is, her gender never factoring in. I tend not to read too much into how genders are conveyed in films, but this one really stood out in the same way Ripley or Sarah Connor did in Alien or Terminator.

There are also a whole host of interesting and well-developed supporting characters, with a troop of Marines backing up our heroes. Bill Paxton plays a particularly amusing Army officer, whilst Gleeson plays a tough-as-nails General.

Liman's direction is great, with the riveting Saving Private Ryan-esque beach assault only the beginning. I found that some of the action was lumbered with unnecessary shaky-cam, but this only stuck out on occasion.

Where Edge of Tomorrow misses out on being pretty much perfect is at the very final hurdle; its not that the ending is inherently bad (there is a logical explanation which fits with the film's overall narrative), it's just poorly executed and signposted.

It literally took me until half-way through writing this review for the ending to click, and that's because I looked it up online. I'm not saying I need the plot spoon-fed to me (because that would be boring), I'm saying that the film didn't do a good enough job of being explicit with how and why the ending worked the way it did.

This is a really minor complaint as 99% of Edge of Tomorrow is miles better than most summer movies we see nowadays. It's like Starship Troopers mixed with Groundhog Day, with games like Killzone, Halo and Titanfall thrown in for good measure. It won't draw the crowds that Transformers will, but it sure as hell deserves them a lot more.

The Verdict: 9/10

I really wanted to give this film a 9.5, but the kinda iffy ending just knocks it back. Regardless, Edge of Tomorrow is a superb film, full of wall-to-wall action, interesting characters and loaded with a well-executed premise. If you see one sci-fi film this summer, for the love of God skip Transformers and see this instead. You won't regret it. 


  1. This is probably the best sci-fi flick in recent times. Thoroughly enjoyed it and it was lovely to see Cruise in a career best role. Blunt was extremely good too. I wanted it to be a video game :)

    Here's my review Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

    1. Agree, Cruise has stepped it up on this one :) Great review Haricharan, thanks for commenting.

  2. Nice review, and I'm right there with you. Loved this film. So much fun and so clever from beginning to end. :)

    1. I went in with low expectations, but was very impressed. Handled the time mechanics really well. Thanks for commenting Chris :)



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