Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Jonas Armstrong, Tony Way, Kick Gurry
Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and (based on the novel “All You Need Is Kill”)
Running Time: 113 mins
Release date: 30th May 2014
Ever had that feeling you’ve been somewhere or done something before? The comedy possibilities were examined in the excellent Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day. Reliving the same day again and again until you get it right. The same plot is used for this multi-million dollar blockbuster from the director of The Bourne Identity. Does it work twice? You bet it does and in the process, we have the best Summer blockbuster of the year, so far. Everything you would want from a popcorn munching sci-fi adventure is her and then some.
Major William Cage is a PR for the army during a raging war against alien invaders happening in Europe. Never seen a battle in his life, he is forced to head to the beaches of France where a planned attack on the creatures is due. Branded a coward and made to be with a ragtag group of soldiers, Cage finds himself stumbling through a vicious battle when he kills a creature, known as Mimics, covering him with its blood and leading to his own death. Except it doesn’t. He starts living the same day over and over again, only to have it replayed the second he dies. Each day he dies, he learns something new, which could help with the fight against the Mimics and one which poster girl, Rita, is very interested in.
With most blockbusters of this type, you get everything thrown at the screen except any form of intelligence, character development or even a decent story. Here they have got the balance just right. An all-out attack on the senses, with the most incredible battle scenes this side of Saving Private Ryan, that does borrow heavily from that as well as Aliens and Starship Troopers, yet has a style and feel all of its own. The scenes on the beach are of epic proportions and you are right there with the confused and clumsy Cage, watching his comrades meet their maker. It tough, gritty stuff.
The effects are also first class, with the Mimics more like giant balls of wire that seem to appear from nowhere, to the war-torn streets of Paris and the attack on London. We mustn’t forget the opening sequence in which a helicopter landed in Trafalgar Square, a sequence that has never been seen on film before.
What surprises more than anything is that while the action scenes are well executed, it’s also very funny. Using Cage’s ability to relive the day means they can kill him off in some very imaginative ways, including one where, trying to escape his platoon, he gets run over by a truck. It doesn’t sound like comedy gold but trust me, it was the scene that I went “Yep, I’m with this all the way!” It doesn’t take itself too seriously, understanding that the events are ludicrous yet by adding that black humour, it makes the film work.
Even the performances work, something that doesn’t often happen in blockbusters. Tom Cruise, returning to the sci-fi genre after last Summer’s so-so Oblivion, doesn’t have to try too hard and yet his screen persona manages to carry the film. He goes from fumbling coward to super soldier very well and it’s all very believable. Emily Blunt, in her first action role, is a revelation. We know she’s a good actress but now we know she can kick butt too. Could we have found a successor to Sigourney Weaver? Slightly bulked up, she handles the fighting, shooting and running around stuff just as well as the dramatic, which we know she is in her comfort zone.
The rest of the cast, mainly the gang from J-Troop, are nicely drawn out and clearly defined so we know exactly who is who, while it’s always good to see Bill Paxton on-screen, here as Cage’s Sergeant, barking orders and talking tough.
The film manages to stay clear of typical Hollywood romance between Cruise and Blunt, although it is touched upon in a well written and heart-felt scene in which Cruise explains that she should stay in a farm-house because if she doesn’t, that’s how she will die for real. In a film that zips along at a terrific pace, it doesn’t slow things down, just makes you like it even more. There is a moment at the end where you are pushed too far and you find yourself going “well that would happen, wouldn’t it?” but it’s just a small blip.
If all Summer Blockbusters were made like this, the world would be a happier place. Instead we get one or two gems in a pack of tripe and cheap rip-offs. Edge Of Tomorrow may gloriously borrow from other sources and may not be the most original idea in the world but it’s fun, it’s bombastic, it’s smart and it’s exciting. Plus it’s the best fun I have had in a cinema in a very long time and it could be the biggest surprise of the year.