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Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014) — Cruise Keeps Dying, Doesn’t Stop Running, in Smart and Gripping Sci-Fi Spectacle

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In the near future, alien creatures — known as Mimics — have conquered most of mainland Europe, with global domination in mind. A last-ditch assault is planned by the military: a surprise attack on France, fueled by the addition of weaponised ‘Jackets’ worn by human soldiers. After attempting to weasel out of front-line deployment, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is apprehended and knocked out by military general Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), who dumps him with the infantry unit J-Squad en-route to the invasion. The cowardly Cage winds up in an explosion with an advanced Mimic known as an Alpha, and the Alpha’s caustic blood spills over Cage as he dies. Cage wakes aboard the same vessel on the day before the battle. Confusion sets in as he repeatedly dies on the battlefield and awakes the day before, stuck in an infinite loop. With the assistance of war hero Rita Vrataski, the “Full Metal Bitch” (Emily Blunt), Cage realises his curse may be the key to victory over the Mimics.

Bluntman and Chronic

Bluntman and Chronic

Edge of Tomorrow is an adaptation of a popular Japanese novel and manga with the extremely less marketable title ‘All You Need is Kill‘. The relative obscurity of the source material (outside of Asia) is to the film’s benefit, as the film version is not under as much scrutiny of an existing fanbase (On an unrelated note: a cheery ‘hello’ to all the diehard Marvel and DC fans). This feels remarkably fresh in a market full of sequels and re-hashes.

The tagline reads “Live. Die. Repeat” and shares a similar form of looping time-travel seen in Source Code and Groundhog Day. It has more in common thematically to the Bill Murray comedy; but while Murray was skylarking with Punxsutawney Phil, Cruise and Blunt are battling for humanity against the alien Mimics, in military scenes akin to Starship Troopers. Although somewhat derivative of the above films, Edge of Tomorrow borrows in broad strokes and paints itself an elaborate, fun, and gripping motion picture.

Despite a terrible marketing campaign from Warner Bros. which revealed too much of the intricate plot and completely undersold the film’s tone and humour, Edge of Tomorrow is a terrific piece of blockbuster science fiction filmmaking. In a climate where studios seem more interested in adding an abundance of meaningless action scenes and uninteresting CGI at the expense of character arcs and plot, it seems like some sort of terrific mistake when a film comes along with the audacity to balance them all perfectly. This is not the first big film this year to surprise me with its depth; perhaps the tide has changed and the studios are learning.

Bill Paxton is in this too!

Bill Paxton is in this too!

The pacing and editing are superb. With a film that relies on repetition to tell its story, it can be easy to become redundant or boring by consistently going back to a reset point, but Edge of Tomorrow confidently navigates this by slowing down the story where necessary — especially the first couple of waves that Cruise’s Cage lives through — but then powering through the superfluous moments, by either cutting them completely or through montage. I would assume the screenwriters have a massive masterplan of every cycle that Cage goes through, and the final edited result never feels dull and moves at a cracking pace. Repetition is used for comic effect on many occasions, and the film’s sense of humour is a highlight.

One thing that cannot be denied is Tom Cruise’s irresistible screen-presence. Although maligned for his personal life, the quality of his films and performances in them have generally been of a consistent high quality; even his singing in Rock of Ages deserves credit. What is plain to see is his passion and work-ethic. He chooses compelling roles — especially since the turn of the century — and his commitment and intensity is palpable on screen. He is a master of taking the ‘Tom Cruise’ template and building interesting and unique concepts around it. He is the ultimate movie-star — he has been for decades — and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Llama Score: 9Edge of Tomorrow is good. Really good. It is inventive and fun while still packing an emotional punch with some great character development and an intricate and engrossing plot. This is Tom Cruise at his best, and Emily Blunt dominates every scene she’s in. It’s nice to have a blockbuster that demands your attention. Highly recommended.

 

Award: Golden LlamaAward: RecycleAward: Stan WinstonAward: nailsAward: Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions

Highlights Banner

– Slick pacing and solid time-travel storytelling.

– Cruise and Blunt are a great duo.

– Significant roles for Aussies Kick Gurry and Noah Taylor.

Lowlights Banner

– Time-travel stories inherently contain plot-holes. This is no different.

– The ending. Tonally consistent?

– Love Me Again by John Newman during the end credits doesn’t fit. At all.

Further Viewing Banner

Source Code

– Groundhog Day

– Starship Troopers

Can’t get enough Tom Cruise? Get all your Tom Cruise needs HERE.

Directed by: Doug Liman Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth Based on: “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka Produced by: Erwin Stoff, Tom Lassally, Jeffrey Silver, Gregory Jacobs, Jason Hoffs Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures Run length: 113 minutes Australian Release: Out now in theatres

 

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2 Comments

  1. great post. but i disagree with the core concept of this movie. check out mine on this movie. http://wellthatsdifferent.wordpress.com/

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  1. The Best Films of 2014 | Sorry I'm Late.com

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