I’ve been meaning to see this film for a long time and thank God it didn’t disappoint.
“What I am about to tell you sounds crazy. But you have to listen to me. Your very lives depend on it. You see, this isn’t the first time.” – William Cage
Based on the Japanese novel, All You Need is Kill (a book which is now on my Amazon wish list) Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise as William Cage, an officer working for the military resistance against an alien invasion. When deployed into battle he finds himself caught in an inescapable time loop (think Groundhog Day) where he relives the war over and over again. On one loop he encounters a Special Forces warrior called Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) and by joining forces, together they try to find a way to end the alien war and end the loop.
Obviously I mean this as a joke but who would have thought seeing Tom Cruise dying repeatedly in one movie could be so entertaining! This film is awesome.
There are so many things that are pleasing on the eye about Edge of Tomorrow. One of those appeals lies with William Cage.
I think I can safely say that I’ve seen enough Tom Cruise films over the years (plus his signature running). Majority of them contains a hero establishment from the get go. You know you’re going to root for him no matter what type of film it is. He’s naturally charismatic, charming and loves to do his own stunts – what’s not to like. However in Edge of Tomorrow, he doesn’t get that build up. He’s not expected to be the hero. He may have the title of “Officer” but as I just said, it’s just a title. He comes across as a marketing exec or spokesperson – people who would happily talk about the war but won’t get their hands dirty for the good of the cause. So when General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders him to join the battle as they embark on their final victory against the aliens (the mimics), he immediately tries to weasel out of combat duty, which lands him into trouble. So already from the start there’s a bit of a dislike and when he’s forced to join the infantry, he’s like a fish out of water. He claims that someone with limited experience can operate the battle suit the infantry soldiers use to combat the enemy. Well judging on the first 20 minutes, he wasn’t practicing what he was preaching!
“Hey Mate! I think there’s something wrong with your suit, There’s a dead guy in it” – Skinner
So how does he get involved in the loop in the first place? The one moment that Cage manages to get his battle suit operational, he kills a mimic. But it wasn’t an ordinary mimic. The film clearly distinguishes between the foot soldiers aliens (highlighted with yellow lights) and the others who have a special type of power (highlighted in blue). The ones with the special powers are called alphas and they have the ability to time travel. The action had an element of luck but in killing an alpha and getting infected with its blood, Cage inhabits the ability to time travel, re-living the moments leading up to the battle on the beach.
One thing I will say about the mimics is that they are brutal and menacing. It’s refreshing to see an actual threat and presence that I feel has been missing from our screens for a long time. They look like squids or an octopus and yet the way they move is always dangerous. Once they seek out a threat, they move with power and fury that can feel a little unnerving. The audience gets a sense of their threat during the opening scenes showcasing newsreels on how they’ve swept across Europe. With the alphas supporting the battle, it presents another advantage for the enemy. Within every battle, they learn how the human resistance fights. If they don’t like the outcome, they can flip the switch to go back and plan again or in this case, allow the resistance a “victory” in order to advance their endgame. The whole idea is simplistic but so effective.
In essence (with it’s computer game ideology), this time loop gift benefits Cage because every time he dies, he learns something new. He becomes a soldier or a better term, a weapon. Some of his “deaths” are comical (thanks to Tom Cruise’s reactions and his acting performance) which immediately lifts the film from being another generic action film about aliens. If I have to give credit where it’s due, then it has to go to the film editor – James Herbert. For the audience, the time loops never felt repetitive, which is a surprisingly easy trap to fall into especially with films like Vantage Point, which was repetition overkill. Like Cage within each time loop, you as the audience learn something new as well. The editing was sharp, quick and affective. It had a confident swagger. However there’s always a trade off because with each loop, Cage eventually starts to feel the burden of the never-ending nightmare, especially when he grows close to Rita. Nevertheless, all these elements build up William Cage into something more credible and believable. In the end, you root for him.
“Now listen carefully. This is a very important rule. This is the only rule. You get injured on the field, you better make sure you die.” – Rita Vrataski
Here’s a bold statement from me – if you are looking for the 2014 version of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, then look no further than Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski.
Hear me out. First of all, I love Emily Blunt so that is always a bonus!
When you think about it, the character of Rita Vrataski is the underrated hero of the film. She drives the film. With every loop, she teaches Cage to handle himself in battle, giving him all the knowledge she possesses about war tactics and the mimic’s power. She has great strength in her convictions – she wants to win the war, not afraid to make tough decisions. She makes no hesitation in resetting the day by killing Cage over and over again during training (another source of laugh out moments). She also allows herself to showcase her vulnerabilities, proving there’s a reason behind her actions. It’s a role with so much impact and control that it’s finally nice to see a real woman on the screen that is not the typical, clueless “damsel in distress” or being told to tone down their behaviour or there for added sex appeal because they look good in a certain outfit.
Can you imagine what Cage would be like without Rita’s help? He would struggle big time! To Cage, Rita is a source of strength and guidance, maybe even inspirational. He wouldn’t have gotten as far as he did without her expertise and it’s no surprise that he began to fall for her emotionally because he started to care what happened to her with each loop.
I love there’s a no holds barred with Rita and because she once held the alpha’s power, she becomes a leader. In fact in the film, she’s the poster girl for the war because of her battle efforts in Verdun. She carries the most impractical war weapon I’ve ever seen – it’s a sword and it’s a big one! But if you’ve seen enough Manga or played Final Fantasy, the weapon is obviously harking back to the book’s originality and she certainly makes use of it.
If I could re-write my top ten badass females list, she would be included – most definitely. Rita’s qualities embody all the traits that made Ripley such an engaging character.
“Battle is the Great Redeemer. It is the fiery crucible in which true heroes are forged. The one place where all men truly share the same rank, regardless of what kind of parasitic scum they were going in.” – Master Sargeant Farrell
Another appealing factor comes down with the location. Majority of the film was filmed in London and Paris and the film makes obvious references to history with World War II being the main connection. The battle on the beach is the sci-fi take on the battle of Normandy. Ironically enough, the battle almost plays out the same where the mimics (or the Germans in WW2) having an upper hand on the allied forces. It is because of the location, the audience is not distracted. The whole story becomes grounded. If the film was set somewhere else, I guarantee you it won’t feel right. Edge of Tomorrow is a classic example where it uses real life context to shape the events of the film plot, similar to how District 9 was massively influenced by the apartheid system in South Africa.
Now the ending – if I were you, I wouldn’t think about it too much…
But in my case, I have to!
Without spoiling it too much, it’s another safe, happy ending where Cage manages to reset time for the final time. On the surface, you might feel a little cheated that it didn’t take that further risk like the novel did but I can live with it. I can’t have too many complaints since the ending wasn’t overdramatic and nonsensical – two words I would use to describe how terrible Oblivion’s ending was.
Any negatives? Just one. What’s up with the “eat, sleep, rave, repeat” tagline style added to the title of this film? Adding Live Die Repeat makes sense but is not needed. Edge of Tomorrow is a far effective title on it’s own with strong praise not only from me but also from critics and fans alike. If people couldn’t wrap their head around the film’s premise then it sounds like a botched up marketing job for them to add the tagline. I’m not keen on the artwork used for the DVD/Blu-Ray either…
Edge of Tomorrow represents another consistent film from director Doug Liman. From projects such as The Bourne Identity, The O.C. to Mr and Mrs Smith, this film is by far his best work. Cruise and Blunt together cement the film with their outstanding performances.
I really enjoyed Edge of Tomorrow and it’s a sci-fi film that’s right up my street. If I could re-live another day I would have seen this in the cinema when I had the chance. Hopefully as it’s now widely available on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital services it will continue to build off it success because I highly recommend it.