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Edge Of Tomorrow – film review

June 10, 2014


Great fun despite a generic finale.

Reviewed on Thursday 5th June 2014

tom cruise - edge of tomorrow

Directed by Doug Liman. Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth   & John-Henry Butterworth, based on the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazka. Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton. Running time: 113 mins.

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) a military public relations officer with no previous combat experience – is press-ganged into fighting on the frontline for one final decisive push against an extraterrestrial invasion force which has taken control of Europe. During what is expected to be an all-out human victory against the fearsome alien foe; Cage is killed almost immediately – reawakening to find himself caught in   a perpetual time loop; re-living the same terrifying beach-head battle over and over again – until he develops the courage and combat skills to defeat the enemy.

There have been plenty of people making comparisons between this and the classic comedy Groundhog Day – although it is actually closer in execution and pacing to     the Oscar-nominated 30 minute short from 1990 which unofficially inspired Groundhog Day – Jonathan Heap’s Kurtwood Smith-starring 12:01pm (itself based on a short story by Richard Lupoff from the early 70s). The moment when time resets every     time Cruise is killed is very similar to 12:01pm; as are some of Cruise’s character’s exasperated interactions with other characters who are unaware the time loop is occurring. It is also interesting to note that another celebrated Black List screenplay (from 2007) – Duncan Jones’ Source Code – where Jake Gyllenhaal must relive the last eight minutes of a dead man’s life in order to discover the identity of a bomber aboard a Chicago commuter train – also has a similar high-concept to Edge Of Tomorrow (which also, similarly, shares an equally contrived Hollywood ending     which appears to have been tacked on).

The movie gleefully avoids the po-faced seriousness of other big summer actioners by employing hefty doses of humor – especially in the way it subverts expectations with its liberal use of role revearsals. Bill Paxton is hilarious here; playing a hard-bitten drill sargeant – the absolute antithesis of his Hudson character from Aliens. And the film also features a good solid performance from Tom Cruise; also having fun playing against type (initially playing a weak-kneed, yellow-bellied coward) – displaying once again his considerable and underappreciated range as an actor (not to mention his terrific sense of comic timing). Emily Blunt too is also a joy to watch; easily convincing in perhaps her most physically active role to date (as a battle-hardened special forces soldier) – a kick-ass role one would normally associate with Cruise himself. Two Australians: Noah Taylor (Tomb Raider, The Year My Voice Broke) and Kick Gurry (Garage Days, Speed Racer) also feature in supporting roles.

Although the staging of action (particularly where aliens are involved) is chaotic at times; the general pacing of the film is deftly handled by director Doug Liman (Go, The Bourne Identity, Mr & Mrs Smith). Indeed, Liman’s generally assured direction – along with a finely-honed and carefully-crafted screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth – ensures that what could easily have become confused or repetitive remains understandable and compelling. The big battle set-piece on the beach, by the way, (around which the entire film pivots) – is clearly inspired by the Omaha Beach sequence which opens Saving Private Ryan – only without all the gore (hence the film’s PG-13 rating).

On the technical side of things; the cinematography by Dion Beebe (another Aussie) is top-notch as always; while the design and FX work on the creatures ‘The Mimics’ lacks originality and character and is the perhaps the least convincing aspect of the entire film. Indeed, the final sequence in an abandoned Paris contains large swathes of CG imagery of the Mimics which could easily have been lifted wholesale from the final sequence of the sentinels overrunning the hovercraft in the Wachowski’s CG-animated Matrix short – Final Flight Of The Osiris.

Despite an unnecessary fall-back on the usual well-worn action finale we’ve all seen   a thousand times before (big yawn) … the film is mostly very smart and highly entertaining and well worth seeing for the humor and engaging premise alone.

4 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Event Cinemas Megaplex Marion, Adelaide, June 5th 2014.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.


From → film reviews

  1. Great review man. I really enjoyed the film – but also totally agree with your review of it!

  2. Yes! I’m still a little shocked at how much I enjoyed a Tom Cruise film. 🙂 But it was thanks to Emily Blunt…

    • gregory moss permalink

      Yeah Emily Blunt IS terrific. But I have to give Tom Cruise props too for choosing such consistently compelling material. 🙂

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