Aliens have invaded Earth and have settled in Europe after they have been stopped by a new breed of super soldiers of which Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) is the prime example. A united world force is planning to invade Europe and at the verge of this invasion, PR manager major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is ordered to pick up arms and join the invaders at the battle front. He refuses to do so, is demoted and joins the allied assault as a private.
Normandie again serves as a battle front of an invasion and what follows is a frontal attack which reminds one of Saving Private Ryan in a sci-fi jacket. In the midst of the battlefield Cage is faced with an alien he ends up killing. The acid blood of the alien (sounds familiar?) kills him in the process. Obviously the movie does not end there.
Cage wakes up back at the military base in the UK and finds himself in the exact same position he was in before the invasion: handcuffed and demoted. He relives the whole invasion only to now live a bit longer: he has learned what got him killed and knows how to avoid that. Unfortunately everything else after that is unknown, so he ends up dying again.
In the several re-spawns that follow Cage’s combat abilities and knowledge of the future help him to develop a plan to overcome the alien force. For this he is assisted by Vrataski, who has had a similar experience. More and more it becomes clear that the aliens have several tricks up their sleeves, and that it will not be an easy task to defeat them.
Humour and Drama
Granted, the summary and even the trailer give the impression of a dull and one-dimensional stereotypical sci-fi movie everyone has seen before. However, Edge of Tomorrow is more than that. Yes, action and sci-fi dominate the flick, but at the same time Liman is not afraid to insert quite a good portion of humour; the interactions between Cage and Vrataski and the live-die-repeat cycles are rather comical at first.
Next, he is also not afraid of a good portion of drama. Cage sees Vrataski dying over and over again and it starts weighing on him; in every single reboot his knowledge of her grows and he grows very fond of her. Finally, Cage arrives at a point where he tries to find a way out in which both Vrataski and him survive, but no matter how many reboots, he does not find a way. She always dies, but she is no longer the unknown soldier, but an intimate friend.
Edge of Tomorrow takes the familiarity of re-spawns in computer games and adds depth and drama to reliving similar events. At moments the loops tend to become too repetitive, but overall Liman knows how to balance the need for repetition and the insertion of new elements in order to not let the movie become boring.
The acting of both Cruise and Blunt is convincing. Cruise’s character makes a persuasive anti-hero-to-hero transition. Blunt’s character is more mysterious but also more inviting to engage with; the audience wants to know what her story is and is allowed to find out more when her superhero shell is starting to show some cracks. Both actors know how to balance the seriousness of the overall movie with the necessary portion of humour; which makes this movie very versatile and enjoyable for several audiences.
The production design is done very well and giving Vrataski a kick-ass big sword was definitely a good way to go. The makers opted for the injection of a rather limited amount of futuristic elements (apart from the war gear and the aliens of course) and that choice provides more points of recognition which make the movie very accessible for a sci-fi flick.
Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a movie definitely worth watching. The story is versatile and well-filmed, and we were pleasantly surprised at its entertainment level.
Edge of Tomorrow – Doug Liman (Warner Bros., 2014)