Friday, 6 June 2014
FILM REVIEW: EDGE OF TOMORROW
Warner Bros./Roadshow Films
Live. Die. Repeat. It's a simple concept and not an entirely new one, but what Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow -- a sci-fi actioner based on a Japanese novel -- lacks in originality it makes up for with above-average blockbuster smarts and a surprising level of fun.
And admittedly, most of that fun comes in witnessing Tom Cruise die, over and over again. Cruise plays William Cage, a military PR supremo who gets busted down to Private when he refuses to join the forces on the beaches of France for a D-Day like assault on an invading alien force.
The Mimics, as they've been dubbed, crashed in Europe some years earlier and since then the metallic, arachnid-like extraterrestrials have been advancing across -- or rather, under -- the Continent. The Normandy assault is to be the Earth's united final front to prevent the enemy from spreading across the planet.
Cage, with no military training and even less sympathy from his new commanding officer (Bill Paxton) and fellow soldiers, soon finds himself dropping in to France, into battle and, not before long, dead at the hands -- tentacles? -- of an Alpha Mimic.
But then he awakens at the beginning of that very same day, and events begin to play out as they did before: conversations, a botched D-Day landing, and then death. And again. Live. Die. Repeat. For something happened to Cage during that first D-Day landing which is forcing (allowing?) him to live the same 24 hours over and over.
He still can't manage to avoid his demise but on one such occasion he encounters Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the so-called Angel of Verdunn: a soldier who took out several Mimics during an earlier campaign and has been the face of the military's propaganda machine. "Come find me when you wake up" she cryptically instructs him, and so he does; soon discovering (with a little help from Noah Taylor's scientist) what's happening to him and how he may just be humanity's best hope for defeating the aliens and saving mankind.
Yes, Tom Cruise's Messiah complex may be somewhat in effect in Edge of Tomorrow but for the first time in a long time (possibly ever?), he is playing a man who is an out and out coward. Cage sells heroism, he doesn't possess it. But with a strong woman at his back, and endowed with a 'gift', war might just make a man out him; if not the first time round then eventually.
That's where Liman's film, adapted from the novel All You Need is Kill by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth and Christopher McQuarrie, draws easy comparison with the classic 1993 existential comedy, Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's misanthropic weatherman lived the same wintry day over and over until he got it right.
But Edge of Tomorrow's not on the same level as Harold Raimis's film; it's more recent relative is 2011's Source Code, where Jake Gyllenhaal's soldier relives the the same seven minutes on a doomed commuter train in the hopes of preventing a domestic terrorist attack.
And much like Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow fudges the ending; seemingly defying its own internal logic to provide the audience with a 'feel good' out rather than a more "realistic" outcome. But up until that point, Cruise and this sci-fi summer blockbuster are in fine form.