Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
“Live. Die. Repeat”
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Synopsis: A military officer is brought into an alien war against an extraterrestrial enemy who can reset the day and know the future. When this officer is enabled with the same power, he teams up with a Special Forces warrior to try and end the war.
WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS!
Built upon the shakiest of premises — just why is the British General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson — The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!) so intent on having slick US military media spokesman General Cage (Tom Cruise — Jack Reacher, Oblivion) placed on the front line in what he expects to be a conclusive battle against an invading alien force? — Edge of Tomorrow initially intrigues and entertains before ultimately disappointing as it inevitably slots into conventional action-picture mode.
As you’d expect, Cage is completely ill-equipped to cope with combat conditions, and the fact that he’s been introduced to his comrades on the eve of battle as a deserter means that he’ll receive no sympathy or protection from them. With sickening predictability, he’s killed within minutes of landing on the beaches of France, but that’s long enough for him to realise that the aliens were ready and waiting for the supposedly surprise attack on them. To his understandable mystification, Cage awakes to find he has travelled 24 hours back in time following his death at the hands — or, more accurately, tentacles — of one of the aliens. His attempts to convince his comrades and commanding officers are met with derision and contempt, but with each repeated day, Cage gathers a little more information on how to stay alive and why the aliens seem to be prepared for the military manoeuvre which was supposed to eliminate them.
Although film versions of video games are nothing new, I believe Edge of Tomorrow must be the only film to date to explore how it feels to be playing — or the subject of — one, which is essentially what this clever action thriller is about. Despite the DVD pre-title of Live. Die. Repeat, the movie shies away from showing the sheer frustration and boredom Cage must go through as he’s forced to do exactly the same thing each day in order to reach the point at which he met his death the day before, and no clue is given as to exactly how many days he lives through — it could be decades, centuries, for all we know. Perhaps thankfully for the audience, each new day becomes progressively shorter, until the plot kicks in and Cage joins forces with Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a UK Special Forces soldier who once went through the same experience but then lost the power when she received a blood transfusion.
The much-maligned Cruise is pretty good as he undertakes the unlikely transformation from hapless enemy target to finely-honed soldier. The movie is also quite funny on occasion, although the humour gradually fades away as Cage becomes desensitised to the bloody deaths he has seen countless numbers of times. Somewhere along the way, the writers realised that, like Vrataski, Cage would have to lose his power of resetting the day (as one resets a computer game upon defeat) for the film to reach a conclusion, and it’s at that very moment that Edge of Tomorrow becomes just another brainless, effects-heavy action pic with a Hollywood-happy ending that strains logic and credibility to their limits. Before then, though, despite still containing plenty of action, Edge of Tomorrow proves to be an unexpectedly stimulating experience.
(Reviewed 14th January 2015)