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USA 2014
Directed by
Doug Liman
113 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
4 stars

Edge Of Tomorrow

Synopsis: The Mimics, an alien race, have attacked Earth. When Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) a media relations officer in the US military, runs afoul of General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) he finds himself fighting on the front lines. Where he dies. And wakes up back at forward base to fight the same day again. And again. And again.

People will of course draw parallels to other films based on a time-repeating plot device, notably Groundhog Day and Source Code, but the beauty of Edge of Tomorrow, which is adapted from the novel "All You Need Is Kill" (I wish they’d kept that name), is that it’s entirely its own beast. It is a fully fledged action film rather than a comedy or a thriller and it’s just as well-written and acted as those other two films, which to be honest was a bit of a surprise. Doug Liman’s only previous venture into science fiction has been Jumper, a film with a reasonably intriguing premise but fairly direly handled. This time around, however, he’s got the scriptwriting muscle of Christopher McQuarrie (of Usual Suspects fame) to deliver a story that explains its conceits in a way that doesn’t offend your intelligence and plays on those ideas to build a really fascinating study of life as a videogame.

In many videogames, you die, repeat the level and learn the tricks, advancing further until you hit another obstacle requiring you to skill up to overcome it, and so on. That’s basically the structure of Cage’s journey as a character. Experimenting with a world that plays out the same way each time, learning to manipulate these events to gain an edge and finally to work out how to win what seems like an unwinnable war. There’s real skill deployed to get that information across quickly with lots of grim humour and fast montages. Traditionally, the best Hollywood blockbusters take their main character on a journey. Cage starts as a coward trying to weasel his way out of combat. By the end he’s a hardened soldier willing to sacrifice his life to save the world. What’s impressive is that the evolution doesn’t feel cheap. We don’t know how many times he’s repeated this day, but we do know that he’s learned everything there is to know about the men and women he fights with and for. And most of all he cares for Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the only other person who has ever experienced what he’s going through. The third act shift from comradeship to something deeper is a bit awkward, but there’s a payoff when Cage realises that maybe he can’t save her and goes off on his own. The dead eyes Cruise puts on are pitch perfect as he walks away from everything he cares about to try and save the world. And the videogame/Hollywood concept of the unstoppable hero gets undercut as Cage-as-killing-machine is also a joyless man with no hope, completely alone.

Edge Of Tomorrow moves at a good clip and is a really excellent piece of blockbuster entertainment. The supporting characters are lightly sketched but have enough individual personality to make them distinct, if not particularly important. Their death or survival is never really a point of concern, but they provide colour to the proceedings. And the action is beautifully staged, with none of the shakycam that disguises the ineptness of most action directors these days. Here, everything is perfectly arranged, and viscerally thrilling. It’s also nice to see Kick Gurry and Noah Taylor in supporting roles, and Dion Beebe is the cinematographer, so a bit of Aussie pride is appropriate. After the recent disappointments of Transcendence, it’s nice to see a high concept science fiction film deliver everything it promises, and then some.




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