Edge Of Tomorrow review

Review Ryan Lambie 30 May 2014 - 07:44

Tom Cruise stars in the sci-fi action flick, Edge Of Tomorrow. Here's Ryan's review of a surprisingly fun film...

It’s difficult to think of another recent actor who’s been quite so dedicated to mainstream science fiction as Tom Cruise. With Minority Report, War Of The Worlds, Oblivion and now Edge Of Tomorrow under his belt, he’s rapidly becoming the current equivalent of Charlton Heston in the 60s and 70s.

Based on the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill - the film’s original title before it went for the less interesting Edge Of Tomorrow - this is a lithe, exciting sci-fi action film with all the affection for mecha and heavy weaponry you’d expect from such directors as Neill Blomkamp and James Cameron. It also features some great performances and a welcome tendency to subvert genre expectations as well as adhere to them.

We’re all used to seeing Tom Cruise play the grinning hero in our summer movies - he’s been an A-list Hollywood leading man for nearly 30 years, after all - but it’s rare to see him play the kind of character he inhabits in Edge Of Tomorrow. Here, Cruise is William Cage, a major in the US army who’s coasting through a conflict against alien invaders. While proper, lower-ranking soldiers do their duty on the front line, Cage uses his good looks to sell the war to the world's public.

A self-confessed coward more used to being on television than on the battlefield (“I can’t stand the sight of blood, really,” he stutters), Cage is horrified when he’s forced to join a full-scale ground assault on mainland Europe. Strapped into a high-tech battle suit at the behest of Brendan Gleeson’s bullish General Brigham, Cage is dropped into the middle of a roaring, D-Day-like counter strike on a French beach. And unlike, say, Ethan Hunt, Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell, or any of the other heroes Cruise has played in the past, Cage shows no particular talent for fighting at all - at first, he can’t even work out how to turn off the safety catch on his weapons system.

Fate does, however, give Cage one unexpected advantage: when he’s inevitably wiped out by shrieking space invaders, he wakes up at precisely the same time 24 hours earlier, and winds up having to live through the battle again. And then again. Initially mystified by the time loop, he gradually learns to use it to his advantage, and with the assistance of the far tougher soldier Rita Vrataski (a sinewy Emily Blunt), he tries to find a means of repelling the invasion.

Comparisons to the classic Groundhog Day are inevitable, but Edge Of Tomorrow also owes a debt to a disparate slew of other movies of the 80s and 90s, including Aliens, Starship Troopers (both Paul Verhoeven’s film and Robert Heinlein's source novel, with its armoured warriors dropped into battle from above the field), The Matrix and Saving Private Ryan. Commendably, the film succeeds in putting elements from these films into its bubbling cauldron and coming out with something which feels distinct and entirely coherent.

The assured pace certainly helps: director Doug Liman keeps the plot speeding along at a boisterous clip (demonstrating a feel for pacing we first saw in 1999's Go), and he makes unusually light work of establishing the near-future setting (largely through the use of fake BBC news footage and the like) and its fight-die-repeat premise. Aggressive bursts of effects-heavy action give way to carefully-judged flashes of humour, with colourful supporting turns from Gleeson, Bill Paxton - who’s now advanced to the rank of Sergeant after playing Hudson in Aliens - and Noah Taylor as an eccentric scientist.

Edge Of Tomorrow also provides a surprisingly solid platform for Tom Cruise's oft-overlooked abilities as an actor. While he was good value in last year’s Oblivion - a film we genuinely liked - he’s even better here, having been handed a character with more to him than a winning smile and a strong right hook. Cage is a coward, sure, but no more so than most of us would be if we were suddenly dropped into the middle of a warzone without adequate training.

Cage’s imperfections actually give something for the actor to do - he adapts and changes throughout the movie, which is something we rarely see in even the best Cruise movies. “Battle is the great redeemer” is a line Bill Paxton’s character repeats more than once, and for Cage, his predicament is also a chance to change who he is for the better.

This isn’t just a Cruise vehicle, either. Emily Blunt is arguably his co-lead here, a battle-hardened warrior who matches Cruise blow-for-blow right up to the final reel. It's difficult to think of another actress who could embody such a tough character while still retaining an air of knowing humour.

Liman’s movie doesn’t aspire to any greater significance other than to be a big, entertaining sci-fi action film - unlike Groundhog Day, we can't see Edge Of Tomorrow being studied in philosophy classes any time soon, and it lacks the satirical humour of another of its touchstones, Starship Troopers. But oddly enough, this makes Liman's film all the more refreshing. At a time when writers and directors feel a need to engage with the zeitgeist, Edge Of Tomorrow simply establishes the rules of its premise and lets rip. The result is one of this summer's most unexpected and entertaining big-screen surprises.

The Edge Of Tomorrow is out in UK cinemas now.

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Disqus - noscript

'It’s difficult to think of another recent actor who’s been quite so dedicated to mainstream science fiction as Tom Cruise. With Minority Report, War Of The Worlds, Oblivion and now Edge Of Tomorrow under his belt'

Do you think Scientology's got anything to do with it?

"What is it Hicks?"
"I'm Hudson, he's Hicks" ....... ya know Michael Biehn ........ Hicks ....... that was a gag right DoG?

Truly amped to see this!!! It's been getting reviews almost everywhere I've checked.

Of course yes, both have the phrase 'scien' in them so obviously it stands to reason. Or perhaps L. Ron Hubbard is transmitting his 'sci'fi-ness' to Tom through some good-natured body thetans from beyond the grave.

Truly amped to see this. Couldn't care a hoot about his unstable personal life, but I love his action movies! And this has been getting rave reviews almost everywhere I've checked.

Does seem there is a lot of hate for Tom Cruise. Whilst he has been in a few duds recently he always comes across as a nice guy and seems to make time to meet his fans.

I know, think it was yesterday or the day before, he and the rest of the cast went to 3 premiere screenings in the space of 24 hours in London, Paris and New York. And he always interacts with the fans. Very hard-working, especially his willingness to do his own stunts. Cant wait to see how the new Mission Impossible will top Ghost Protocol as well.

Rich may be right. As all us Colonial Marines are aware, Hudson was a PFC not a Corp.

I saw the trailer for this at a Locke screening: all I could work out was Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise yelling at each other, hurling around futuristic weapons and something about a time loop.
I IMMEDIATELY knew I had to see it.

Big fan of Tom Cruise, me. Proper movie star.

I've been thinking the same thing lately. I get the impression that Cruise is making sci-fi almost exclusively because of Scientology/Hubbart.

Seems slightly Source Codeish but I enjoy future war science fiction like this and Starship Troopers and thought 'Oblivion' was a pretty decent movie.Surprised Tom Cruise has never developed a horror movie to participate in.The closest he's ever got to horror was probably 'Legend'.

Wait a minute,i did forget 'Interview with a Vampire' which was pretty successful.Would be curious to see him working on another horror movie,though.

Hmmm, still torn on this. On the one hand my intense dislike of Cruise and his movies but on the other I liked the book and the reviews are pretty good...

Saw it last night, on an IMAX screen, and thought it was very enjoyable - its clearly a mix of Groundhog Day and The Matrix - but it has a nice sense of humour and I enjoyed the ride.

I honestly cannot understand how people can dislike Tom Cruise as an actor.

People who say 'I cant stand Tom Cruise films' clearly have never seen The Colour of Money, Born on the 4th of July, Rainman, Magnolia, Jerry Maguire, Risky Business, Collateral, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Valkrie.

All very good films.

People forget this guy can really act because he is doing more 'action' films these days.

My girlfriend told me she hated him. I then made her watch Mission Impossible (1, 3 and 4), Minority Report and Vanilla Sky and now she wants me to buy all the guys Blu-Rays!

I don't hate him but I don't see as an actor with a range. He generally gets into one mindset and sticks with it. This works brilliantly in cameos (Magnolia, Tropic Thunder), less so when you have to suffer a whole movie of his one-track gurning (all MIssion Impossibles after the first one).

His best ever performance, IMHO...

just seen film, enjoyed it, but sack continuity man. why is second button of cage uniform undone during his conversation with the general for two shots ? then fastened in the next shot yet he has not moved in his chair? one for movie mistakes

"It’s difficult to think of another recent actor who’s been quite so dedicated to mainstream science fiction as Tom Cruise."

No it's not.

Will Smith has Tom Cruise beat hands down in Sci-fi. Independence Day, Three Men in Black movies, I Am Legend, I Robot, After Earth (sigh), even Enemy of the State was a Sci-fi movie at the time - although it's science fact now.

Oh, and and let's not forget about Sam Jackson - the THREE STAR WARS MOVIES, (nearly) ALL OF THE AVENGERS movies, Robocop, Unbreakable, Jurassic Park, Jumper and more.

I'd say give it a look anyway. I loved the book (and I'm a bit upset that most reviews are forgetting that), and I know the film won't be 100% faithful...but the movie looks great and the reviews have been vefy, very positive. So there's gotta be something there.

I would put the source novel ALL YOU NEED IS KILL among the best of the "powered suit" military SF--like STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE FOREVER WAR, and ARMOR.

One quick note--the original novel was first published in 2004--a few years before SOURCE CODE.

Ah!Right.Thanks.I'm just unfamiliar with that book and my initial observation is only based on the trailer and the review of the film.Is it a good adaptation of the source material,then?

You liked Oblivion? Yikes...

I haven't seen the movie yet--hope to next week when it opens in the US--but judging from what's been shown in the trailers, they've kept quite a few elements. Now, there have been some very obvious changes made, but that's the way things go when you go from novel to film.

If possible, read the book after you see the film. It's available in English (since 2009) and it's a great read. It is short, but it packs quite a lot in around 200 pages than most books struggle to do with 500.

In regards to Cruise and horror--he was attached to Del Toro's adaptation of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS, but that was sadly never made. Maybe in the near future....

Tom cruise is a movie star. He's great with his fans and likes scifi. Good on him. Let's hope it continues.

Met him once while he was working on Eyes Wide Shut in Herts in England. He bought the whole pub a drink. Proper nice bloke and genuinely loves his fans. Looking forward to this.

No way. All of those Will Smith films are poor apart from maybe I Am Legend. Even though they completely missed the point of the title and legend aspect of the book. As in he's the monster creeping around murdering people while they're asleep. Sam Jackson was crap in the Star Wars films but yes great in Unbreakable. The Robocop remake entirely misses the humanity theme of the original.

That's a shame that they never turned that development around into production considering a commercially successful adaptation of Lovecraft is overdue,really.A Cruise/Del Toro collaboration on that property might very well have delivered.I'd be interested to see Cruise working with Del Toro or Tim Burton on a horror film.

Warhammer + groundhog day?

or because it's one of the hottest most profitable genres of film these days. the biggest money makers are children's/animated, comic book and sci-fi/spectacle so these are the places you can expect to see big movie stars.

I cry every time I think about how good "I Am Legend" could have been.

totally agree, hes one of my favorite actors. Not because I think critically he is a brilliant actor, but just because I have thoroughly and consistently enjoyed so many movies of his. You've listed so many critically acclaimed films that no one could argue against, and could also add on the other end of the scale enjoyable films like Oblivion, Jack Reacher, Top gun,

There are very few actors these days who could boast such huge line up of quality films. Just don't get the anti "oh another tom cruise film"
I think its just the closet hipsters.

A good point. Not only has he made great critically acclaimed films, he has made a whole host of 'guilty pleasure' films.

I agree, there are not many actors who can boast such a line up of films, and also characters:

Government Agent
Fighter Jet Pilot
Cocktail maker
Race Car driver
Sex Therapist
Fat, Bald Movie Exec
Rock Star
German Soldier
Pool hustler
Paralised Army Vet
Sports Agent

You have to say one thing about him, he's not typecast!

Interview with the vampire could be considered a horror

edit: nevermind i just noticed your later post

Went to a showing of The Edge of Tomorrow earlier. Genuinely loved. I thought it was great!

Bill paxton essentially plays an older version of his character in Aliens!

I saw this yesterday. IT IS A 5 STAR FILM, and i'm unsure why it would qualify for anything less. The story is excellent. The acting is excellent. The Pacing is excellent. The special effects are incredible. Please let's not be afraid to give credit where it is due.

Agreed. Just watched it. Mazin'!

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