Saturday, 6 December 2014

Review: Edge of Tomorrow (A.K.A LIVE DIE REPEAT, A.K.A All You Need is Kill)

Year: 2014
Director: Doug Liman
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Synopsis is here:


Despite seemingly being marketed by a group of drunks recovering from a 7 day bender (why all the name changes, guys?), and the profit margins being more delicate than a Sony studio password, Edge of Tomorrow is a relatively fun sci-fi actioner. One that reminds you that Tom Cruise (aged 52), is still the engaging A-list movie star he was before we found out about his great battle with thetans. Hell, I'm beginning to think his belief in Scientology is part of the reason he's been able to pick interesting sci-fi projects. I wouldn't be surprised if the presence of Cruise may have switched people off Edge of Tomorrow. Yet Cruise's personal charm is one of the reasons the film works. The other (greater) reason is Emily Blunt.

Blunt, whose Rita character shows the type of urgency which has been greatly missed from female roles in the likes of Godzilla or The Amazing Spiderman 2, once again displays her amazing capability to bounce off her Male counterparts. The reversal of roles here allows Blunt to blossom even more so than she did in similar high concept features such as The Adjustment Bureau (2011), however the nature of Edge of Tomorrow's material seemingly gives a lot of the emotional resonance back to Cruise in his role of cowardly PR man cum action solider.

I do wonder what the late Roger Ebert would have felt about Edge of Tomorrow. As a critic whose interest in video games was in the minus figures, he would have been faced with a film that is heavily drenched in video game aesthetic. The source material (A Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka) is said to have borrowed heavily of the play, die, and continue aspect of video games, as does this film. Here, I found it hard not to think I was not still playing COD: Advanced Warfare as even though neither game, nor film were looking over each other's solider, the similarities in the battle suits I found quite remarkable. The film's play on the concept of "spawning" and repeating until you get it right, isn't that original (see Source Code (2011), Looper (2012), SO many classic sci-fi stories), however Liman's storytelling direction of the material is refreshing. Edge of Tomorrow never feels like the template blockbusters the comic book films are starting to feel like, while it's commentary on how this muscle memory element impacts the protagonist has a certain perceptiveness to it.

Doug Liman is in his element here. Jumper (2008) is a mere faded memory here as the punchy action sequences carry weight while the cast interplay hold a playful blockbuster chemistry that enjoyable to watch. Edge of Tomorrow may not shoehorn itself into the classic hall of Hollywood blockbusters, its good fun but nothing too out of the ordinary. However, as a piece of light sci-fi action fare, I found it a film that deserves to find a good home audience in the future. Here's hoping the replay value goes past the high concept.