Nowadays it is often lamented that there are hardly any original films, with most of them being part of some expanding franchise. And this isn’t a bad thing when it’s done well, but it is nice to see something a little different for once. Granted, Edge of Tomorrow is adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill, but its plot is refreshingly unique. After an asteroid brings a race of alien invaders called Mimics to Europe, PR officer Major William Cage (Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible, Top Gun) is forced to the front line. Here, he is exposed to Mimic biology that causes him to reset the day every time he dies, establishing a time loop. He now has to use this new found ability to put a stop to the invasion with the help of battle-worn veteran Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, Looper, The Adjustment Bureau).
And despite the idea of the day repeating itself being used before in films, both in sci-fi (Source Code) and comedy (Groundhog Day), Edge of Tomorrow refreshes this concept. And thanks to the militaristic setting of a WWII-style Normandy beach landing, at times it kind of felt like a computer game on the hardest difficulty setting , with Cage being given unlimited respawns, meaning that he can learn when and where on the “level” the enemies are going to appear. This vibe really works for the film, because the audience goes through his learning curve with him, and emphasises that Cage’s relationship with Vrataski is one sided.
This also allows for some interesting character development. When we are first introduced to Cage, he is a selfish coward, but after experiencing death and the effects of war first hand multiple times, it matures him as a character, which is portrayed well by Cruise. His counterpart in Vrataski upstages him thanks to Blunt’s portrayal of her as a character, essentially reversing the traditional “damsel in distress” stereotype. As well as the two lead roles, Edge of Tomorrow features a strong supporting cast, including Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood), with a particularly memorable performance from Bill Paxton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as a no-nonsense drill sergeant from Kentucky.
The only criticisms that I can draw come from the film’s third act, which I am going to talk about, so SPOILERS below…
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I get why Cage’s ability is removed; it gives him a sense of vulnerability and adds tension. But by giving it back to him at the last minute, it undercuts the sense of sacrifice in order to have a “happy ending” that doesn’t make sense and feels out of place. I mean, if Cage kills the Omega before he resets the day, surely that means him killing it would be reset as well? And speaking of things out of place, that kiss between Cage and Vrataski felt so artificial and went against the idea of their one-sided relationship.
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In spite of these flaws, Edge of Tomorrow is definitely one of the highlights of this summer, if not this year. It has an original story, two strong leads backed by a sound supporting cast, and was an engaging experience.