Edge of Tomorrow
aka All You Need is Kill
Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth
Based on the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Directed by Doug Liman
It’s come to our attention thanks to the multitude of video games being adapted into film, that the transition from the one media to the other is just too rife with problems to work. From Mario Mario walking the dinosaur in an alternate dimension to Kristin Kreuk seductively dancing for bathroom funtime, no one seems to have any idea how to turn video games into non-terrible cinema. Which is part of why Edge of Tomorrow is amazing, because it is the perfect video game movie! All they had to do was base it on a book…
Beyond the obvious video game connections, Edge of Tomorrow is a fun action film that stands out from the dour “dark and gritty” or somber 9-11 commentary that so often infects modern action cinema. It really took me by surprised just how entertaining it would be. I was expecting a more serious action drama that took itself too seriously, but that was quickly dashed once the resurrection jokes began.
An alien invasion and a time loop is the setting for Edge of Tomorrow. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) does military PR, having the terrible job of trying to spin nonstop losses into recruitment drives for more meat for the grinder. With a full scale invasion of the European continent imminent by the humans, Cage is in England where he’s told he’ll be joining the battle on the front lines. Cage attempts to talks his way out of the assignment, but ends up arrested for disobeying orders and awakens in handcuffs on a military base where he’s informed he’s a private and a deserter who will be thrown into battle during the invasion which happens in 24 hours.
The invasion is a disaster, but thanks to some magical science fiction luck, Cruise awakens from his death to 24 hours prior, in handcuffs on a military base where he’s informed he’s a private and a deserter. Thus the cycle begins, with Cage reliving the day over and over again, slowly learning how to operate his suit, how to survive for a few seconds before dying, and even coming across the heroine of the only human victory, Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) – aka the Full Metal Bitch – who realizes what is happening to him and tells him to come find her when he wakes up. Vrataski had the same thing happen to her, causing the lone human victory. She starts to train Cage, with the long term goal of destroying the alien Omega, which will cause the destruction of the Mimics.
Cruise is perfect for the role, his initial appearance as a military talking head who tries to shirk from his duty plays right in to Cruise’s reputation of being a crazy douche no one likes. He’s berated by Master Sergeant Farell (a brilliant Bill Paxton) and is the butt of dark jokes from his squadmates. The more we follow Cruise, the more we get to know him, the more he gets to know the people around him, and the more charming he becomes as he starts mowing down aliens based on memorized patterns on a quest that seems almost impossible to complete.
What gives Cage purpose is when Vrataski reveals the repeating thing happened to her. She becomes his contact, his connection that he grows a stronger bond with every day. The training montages where Vrataski repeatedly kills Cage for having injured himself too much to fight are hilarious. The tone of the original trailer made it seem like a serious science fiction action drama, but Edge of Tomorrow is packed with lots of humor, it knows how to have fun while still having plenty of serious bits. Emily Blunt is stunning as Rita Vrataski, tough as nails, but also tortured by her experience reliving and watching her friends die again and again. She’s smart enough to not fall for any of Cage’s crap, and doesn’t feel like a love interest jammed in under studio mandate. Even with Cage knowing the future, Vrataski is always the one in control.
The action scenes in Edge of Tomorrow are a retro-future wonderland. The entire invasion mimics the D-Day landings (up to releasing the film in America on the 70th Anniversary weekend of the invasion), with soldiers swarming on the beach and people dropping left and right. Instead of boats and guys in helmets and guns, huge propellered dropships dump thousands of people in powered armor that would put the humans on equal footing with the aliens, had the Mimics not been cheating with their time resetting powers. The action shots just look amazing, and are the kind of scenes people dream about bringing to life in cinema. The armor and vehicles have that used look to them, banged up and possibly built out of pieces salvaged from lost battles. The dirty tech shows the technological advancement and increasing desperation of humanity.
The biggest drawback to Edge of Tomorrow is the unfortunately generic-looking alien Mimics. They follow that whole squids aesthetic where they got tons of tentacles and are writhing around. Even the robots of The Matrix had a similar design concept. The biology of the Mimics is a bit more interesting. They’re all controlled by an Omega, which looks like a giant flower, and are essentially one big life form. The specialized Alpha Mimics are the parts that control when the Omega resets time, as when one of them dies, the Omega can reset back 24 hours with knowledge of the future. This is how they managed to win every battle. But the blood of the Alphas contains the powers, and their blood on/in Cage is how he gains the powers of resetting time instead. I did appreciate the Omega just being a big flower and not a big flower that was secretly another bigger squid monster.
Aside from the design issue, Edge of Tomorrow packs a solid entertainment punch and deserves an audience. Even if you aren’t too keen on Tom Cruise, weird science fiction movies, or films where people eat playing cards, Edge of Tomorrow will overcome your objections and make you enjoy it regardless. And if you don’t, you can always kill yourself to reset time so you don’t watch it! I totally guarantee that will work…
Rated 9/10 (logo, logo, release, helmet, Cruise running, Cruise riding, walking, trailer, flare)
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