‘Edge of Tomorrow’ could be both the high-concept, sci-fi sleeper hit of the summer and the start of a new page for Tom Cruise, according to Peter Roche.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Over a hundred years ago Mr. Samuel Beckett inadvertently prophesised Tom Cruises’ film career from 2003 onwards, but not only that – he also summarised the plot of Edge of Tomorrow. The latest high-concept sci-fi film is based on the grammatically dubious Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, All You Need is Kill. Directed by Doug Liman, the man who brought us the The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mr. Smith and Jumper, the film sees earth besieged by giant oil-covered crustaceans known as Mimics.
Standing between utter annihilation and us is the United Defense Force, or the UDF. We’re introduced to Major William Cage (Cruise), an arrogant UDF spin-doctor based in London, tasked with the difficult task of convincing the public that we’re winning the war against the crabs. After some altercations with a superior officer (played by Brendan Gleeson at his most acerbic, and as always an absolute joy to watch), Major Cage is thrust into the front lines of battle with no combat experience or training in a D-Day-like storming of the beaches of Normandy. To no-one’s surprise he dies rather quickly, but not before killing one of the belligerent shellfish by sheer fluke. The arthropod leeks acidic blood, a lá one of Ripley’s aliens, and Tom Cruise (at last) kicks the bucket.
But wait! Like Jesus himself, Major Cage is resurrected, and proceeds to repeat his final day over and over again. From here in the film plays like a most nifty puzzle, or one of those ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books that children enjoyed before the advent of video games. Major Cage soon learns to seek out Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), hero figure of the UDF, who seems to have some knowledge of what is happening to our protagonist. Unsurprisingly there blossoms a half-baked love affair, though a strangely masochistic one where Rita shoots Major Cage in the head in order to reset the day.
There is surprisingly little hype around Edge of Tomorrow, over shadowed as it is by Days of Future Past and Godzilla, both of which are targeted at a similar demographic. For whatever reason it is a real shame, as this is a cracker of a movie and not an easy one to pull off. The live-die-repeat premise could very easily get tedious, but snappy editing keeps it light hearted and entertaining.
Both Cruise and Blunt are on top form. Blunt is well suited to the kick-ass heroine role, and luckily her character is nicely written; multilayered and strong, a rarity for women in big budget action films. Cruise is at his best since Vanilla Sky, which was well over a decade ago, and has finally become the leading man he always wanted to be. For better or worse.
Edge of Tomorrow is in cinemas nationwide from May 30.
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