Summer blockbuster season is now in full swing and, on the face of it, Edge of Tomorrow comes across as another bland and predictable science fiction flick. Thankfully, it has an intelligent plot to accompany the relentless, fast-paced action. As others did previously, Edge of Tomorrow borrows the basic plot line of Groundhog Day, the script being loosely adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s short story All You Need is Kill. Tom Cruise is lieutenant Cage, a key PR man in the US Special Forces who has never seen any front line action. However, with aliens (the Mimics) rapidly taking over the world, he is sent to fight, without any training and essentially as cannon-fodder. Inevitably, he dies within minutes, only to wake up 24 hours earlier with his memory of events still intact. Soon, with the help of Rita (Emily Blunt), he begins to understand that he has gained the ability to manipulate time and restart the day each time he dies. Now, they must use Cage’s ability to their advantage to end the threat posed by the aliens and prevent them from crossing the English Channel.
To their credit the writers have managed to form a plot that, whilst repeating large sections of the narrative, never becomes stale or boring. You do not see every one of Cruise’s attempts to save the world, so each ‘life’ shows something different, keeping it interesting. The film progresses at an incredibly fast pace and the large scale battles on the beaches are stunning; but this leaves little opportunity for any meaningful character development, other than for Cruise’s character. Video games come to mind when thinking about Edge of Tomorrow’s plot as Cruise’s character retries the same thing in attempt to defeat the overwhelming threat.
Tom Cruise’s performance in Edge of Tomorrow is certainly one of his best in recent years. Its refreshing to see him play a character that starts out as weak and pathetic and develops into the charismatic hero he is known for. He seems comfortable throughout and it shows he has the ability to perform roles he is not usually cast for. Also, for those who dislike Cruise, the fact that he dies multiple times, in increasingly creative ways, might be appealing. He and Emily Blunt also form a good partnership when they’re on screen together and they’re key to the humour in the first half of the film. Blunt is surprisingly believable as a steely war propaganda girl who has become known as the ‘Full Metal Bitch’.
Unfortunately, the humour and inventiveness disappear in the final act as the film becomes more of a generic sci-fi flick. The heroes are involved in an attack on Paris with Cruise back to his usual self and even the action loses the frantic and impressive nature it had in the early scenes. It is certainly a shame that the excitement could not be sustained for the entire running time but it is the film’s only significant downfall.
Edge of Tomorrow is an intelligent science-fiction action film and impressive spectacle that stands out amongst the generic summer blockbusters, even if it is let down by the final act.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014), directed by Doug Liman, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures, Certificate 12A. Watch the trailer below: