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Edge of Tommorow – Movie Review

Tom Cruise relives countless bloody battles in this Sci-fi romp!

PLEASE NOTE. WHILE I’LL DO MY BEST TO AVOID SPOILERS, I WILL BE GOING INTO DETAIL REGARDING THE BEGINNING OF THE FILM. ILL DO MY BEST TO KEEP IT UNDER WHAT A TRAILER WOULD REVEAL.

If the Starship Troopers franchise had a baby with the Bill Murray classic Ground-hog Day and Gears of War and Transformers were also at the party and had a few too many drinks too and one thing lead to another…you’d be close to how The Edge of Tomorrow was conceived (ouch, the metaphor is self sustaining now). Starring A-Lister Tom Cruise, this heavy hitting Sci-Fi blockbuster manages to incorporate an odd but intriguing concept. .

Earth has been struck by meteorites that brought alien invaders with them. Striking in Paris, the creatures promptly spread out and conquered the best part of Europe, Africa, Russia and the Middle East. Within five years, the invaders are fitting to cross the ocean and attack London and the USA, effectively ending the human resistance and the battle. A battle plan is drawn up to ambush the enemy on the beaches of France, stopping their advance and forcing them back. Major William Cage (cruise) is an officer who has never seen combat but through his skills in PR and advertising has risen through the ranks in a time of crisis without seeing real combat. When he is drafted to help lead the invasion, he first refuses, then attempts to blackmail the general giving him the order. Stripped of his rank, he is sent off to a forward operating base at Heathrow Airport and bundled in with the misfit “J Squad”. Despite his pleas, he is unable to avoid combat. Landing with the troops in their specially designed exoskeleton battle suits to match the invaders strength, Cage endures a Normandy landing style assault on the enemy. However the enemy knew they were coming and attack mercilessly. Cage struggles to fight his way through the battlezone but is confronted by an especially large “Mimic” (as the alien race are called) and, grabbing a nearby land mine, is killed destroying it.

Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow

John Rambo, he is not

He then wakes back up at the forward base on the morning he was sent there for treason. Everything is happening exactly as it did, from the drill sergeants banter to the his interaction with J squad. He tries to convince his squad mates of the impending disaster but is ignored. He ends up on the beach again, battles his way through but is killed. He then wakes up again, back at the base. In one of these loops, he meets Rita Vratanski, a famous and highly skilled veteran. She tells him to look for her when he “wakes up”, moments before they are both killed. Cage loops again and Rita explains that she understands what is happening. From here, Cage begins to memorise the patterns of the battle, trying to work out why this is happening and get answers and hopefully, end the war.

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Throughout the film the time looping gimmick doesn’t become tiresome. Instead, it allows for some comedic moments (Some of Cages deaths are hilariously slapstick) and Cages progression from an irredeemable, spineless coward into a hardened, battle-ready one man army is believable, from little aspects like leaving his helmet behind to his facial expressions. He desperately doesn’t want to be there but is duty bound to do something, to help get the hero Rita to the source of the alien scourge and save the day. It cleverly plays with our perception of time, events that seem like they are the first time end up being the 20th try or more to try and get through the war zone.

In talking to friends about this movie, I’ve likened it to “the best movie about a video game that doesn’t exist” that I’d ever seen. It feels like a game, Cages skill in using his battle suit is steady and almost as if he was leveling up. The battle suits which at the start of the movie were clunky, tank-like things, are suddenly leaping twenty feet into the air and flipping cars one handed. One factor I appreciated was how lethal the enemies remain throughout the entire film. There is no sudden lapse in skill or ferocity. Right up to the films finale, humanity have to be on their toes and out of sight, death is swift in this movie. One thing I enjoyed about the movie is it didn’t get tangled up in its own rules. Time travel in any medium is ALWAYS a risk, but Edge of Tomorrow manages it without tripping over itself.

The supporting cast, from Bill Paxton as the unsympathetic drill sergeant and the misfit band J Squad offer some great comedic potential. Cruise and Emily Blunts interactions are great, with Cage having to re-convince Rita with each subsequent death and becoming gradually ballsier in how he approaches her, despite her reputation as a masterful killer and general bad ass.

The action, when mechanical fists start flying hits REALLY hard. Its incredibly satisfying to see our two protagonists utterly smash the enemy with their mechanical death suits. Equally satisfying is the gunplay.

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Keiji Kiriya in his “Jacket” from the original manga

Based on the manga “All you need is KILL”, there are changes enough to make it palatable to a western audience with no taste/tolerance for the anime flavouring. In the original story it is Japan that offers the last ditch defense and their suits are full on mech robot suits. The characters persist, however Major William Cage is replaced with young but equally inexperienced cadet Keiji Kiriya (however in the story of All you need is Kill, they encounter American troops who pronounce his name Cage and grant him the nickname Killer Cage). Rita persists in both incarnations. Overall, non of the changes are jarring, its simply a difference of style, with the same core story, an inexperienced hero becomes stronger, teaming up with a female ace soldier, working more and more to end the war and solve the mystery of their new power. In the movie, You’ll believe that, under threat of invasion, the battle suits from the movie were in fact cobbled together in the five years of warfare that progresses as the movie plays out.

If you’re on the fence about seeing this film, then I’ll summarise: If you’re after a movie filled with heavy metal fighting, some great comedic touches and an engaging story that manages not to get lost in its own premise, I’d strongly recommend checking it out, either in theatres if possible or on home release. You wont regret it.

Images courtesy of Japanator, The Guardian and BusinessInsider

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