UK Release: May 30th 2014
Based on the novel ‘All You Need Is Kill’ by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (in which this film was originally titled, until Warner Bros. thought it wasn’t marketable enough to a ‘12a’ audience), ‘EDGE OF TOMORROW’ tells the tale of Tom Cruise’s Major William Cage being drafted into the war against an ancient alien race known as The Mimics. When he gets killed in a Normandy like beach battle, he discovers that he wakes up only to relive that same day, time and time again. With Emily Blunt’s (nicknamed in this as ‘Full Metal Bitch’) Sgt. Rita Vrataski being the only one believing him, can they use this new found ability to win the war?
Now on paper ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ will come across as some ‘Groundhog Day’ meets ‘Source Code’ type situation. And there is a certain stigma attached to this film from its marketing which does give a certain audience a conscience that they have seen this all before. Throughout this film you do see noticeable references to other forms of films and games. ‘Full Metal Jacket’, the alien like design from ‘The Matrix’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ with the opening beach battle, the marines (and Bill Paxton) from ‘Aliens’, the alien/war tone streets of London from ‘Resistance: Fall of Man’. While all these are noticeable along with the ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Source Code’ story beat, here is something which realises these influences and creates something of its own accord. A lot of this can be thanks to director Doug Liman (with energy sucking direction and editation which gives this film an incredible rhythmic momentum not seen in a summer blockbuster in a long time), and his scripting team of Christopher McQuirre , and Jez & John-Henry Butterworth. What’s so great with what they have created here is how this idea of repeating the day, is backed up with a surprisingly tight Sci-Fi mythology behind it. This repeat concept is explained (and edited) surprisingly very tight, and is that understandable there is no need for the film to go back and explain it again to the audience, which many huge summer blockbusters in this modern day have done. What’s also good about this writing here is the central dynamic’s between Cruise and Blunt (here on a screen stealing form), with the idea as each day goes on he knows more about Blunt’s character then what she knows about him, since he has lived that day several times before. What I do like though is that they need one and other and Emily Blunt is very much a strong female character. This does work into the films idea that there is danger lurking around every corner (this is a McQuirre writing hallmark) adding continual dilemma’s as the film continues on.
Saying this though, also adds to layer which sees the film being played out as some videogame. This is something which the film clearly understands (Blunt sword is a reference to the design of swords in ‘Final Fantasy 7’), the idea Cruise keeps dying (as if it was on a level of a game) and keeps coming back alive to relive it again (as if he was respawned to the last save point and start the level again because he has died in game) which eventually (having replaying the level after dying several times) will lead him to the battle at the end with the big final boss. And the only way to do this is by ‘’levelling up’’ and gaining skills, and experience (or ‘’XP’’) with help from the training Emily Blunt gives him (better fighting abilities and use of weapons) – which in the film turns him from being some wimp (which personally I found more interesting, and brings something unexpected to a film like this) into some action hero. I also like the touch of how the mental strains it has on the characters, from how Cruise’s character keeps seeing fellow soldiers die and die again and the brief mention on the politics of war.
During the production is was widely known that Warner Bros asked if they could do some reshooting of the ending, and while this has happened before to varying effects in the past (‘World War Z’ and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ comes to mind), and unfortunately in doing this the whole last act sadly loses focus and any real hook, as it becomes more a generic shoot out slug fest. I think the biggest issue is the fact it seems to go against the rules set up earlier in the film, and tries to create some big Sci-Fi sting ending which doesn’t work, because of it going against its own repeat rules meaning it feels unearned. Also it never explains why they can take all this damage without actually dying – when in the earlier part of the film, people die under a lot easier of blows. You also ask where is Blunt in all this as well (saying that though in the press tour it was noted she was pregnant at the time). Other faults in this film could also be the fact that you work it out before the character do which did get annoying, but if this is the sacrifice made so it didn’t have to repeat exposition later on then that should be fine. There is also a poor use of the song ‘Love Me Again’ by John Newman (a lad who I used to sit next to in science in my school years) which doesn’t go with the film at all, and with how the film ends just doesn’t seem to fit with the tone the film ended with. Still though Liman brings great energy, and moment (I can’t stress this point), his editors of James Herbert and Laura Jennings should get a mention with how tightly they have done this and how it captures Liman’s crazy directional energy employed here. It is nice to see British acting talent of Charlotte Riley and Noah Taylor, Irish talent of Brendan Gleeson and of course Bill Paxton. Also watch out for Lara Pulver (TV’s ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Fleming’) appearing in a non speaking role.
As it is this is still a fresh of air in the summer blockbuster season full of superheroes and sequels. While it does has it faults (I still think Cruise should be more a wimp, and it attempted ending feels unearned), you do get something here which feels very 1990’s. And if you want to know how the film was meant to end, here is an article telling everything you need to know on its original ending: http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/edge-of-tomorrow-ending-alternate.php#ixzz36Li5He00