Spoilers approaching, initiate evasive maneuvers.
Doug Liman directs Edge of Tomorrow, a science fiction military film loosely (very loosely) based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill. The movie started with this title but was changed because the word “kill” was deemed too negative. I must confess I had to put away a lot of negative expectation about Tom Cruise’s leading role in this film. The original story called for a younger, rather inexperienced man. However, I heard good things about this film.
Cruise plays Mayor Cage, a man who has not seen combat and is happy to just be part of the PR team while everyone else is waging a war against aliens. He’s called in to talk to General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) who informs him he’s part of the UDF now and his orders are to go to the front line in the upcoming battle. Cage is not happy about that and tries to weasel away from the orders, to the point of extorsion. As punishment, he is stripped of his rank and deemed a deserter.
When he wakes up, he’s in handcuffs at Heathrow base, the former airport in London, getting his gear and meeting Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton). He then gets dragged into joining J-Squad, a team of rejects. As he meets his mates, they get punished for gambling. Soon enough, he gets secured into a combat exoskeleton like we’ve seen in several other futuristic movies with heavy weaponry and enhanced strength. He gets thrown into J-Squad with the first wave. The results are disastrous, as he can’t even manage to take the safety off his weapons. He manages to see a familiar figure on the battlefield, the famous “Angel of Verdun”, Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) right before she gets killed. Finally he’s only able to get a few shots as the alien enemies known as Mimics, kill everyone. Right as he’s about to get attacked by a rare form of Mimic known as an Alpha, he manages to detonate a device. The result is he gets covered in Alpha blood as he dies.
And here’s where it gets interesting. The second he perishes he wakes up in handcuffs back at Heathrow base, the day before. It seems like he’s reliving the same day again, meeting Master Sergeant Farell and J-Squad. Clumsily, he tries to change things warning them as the plane explodes, his colleague gets killed and he sees Vrataski getting killed again. He’s only able to do some marginal changes as he gets killed again… once again awakening back the day before.
As he loops yet again, he slowly starts managing to do some things different including trying to get Farell to listen to him. He wants to warn them that the aliens are waiting for them. For all his trouble, he’s strapped into the plane with his mouth gagged with duck tape. As he’s sent into battle, he does manage to save Sergeant Rita Vrataski this time. He barely has time to tell her he’s reliving the same day. Cryptically, Vrataski tells him to look for her when he wakes up. Then both of them get killed.
Cage wakes up the day before again. After several tries, he manages to shake off his squad and reach Vrataski. She tells him that she had a similar experience after killing an Alpha and getting blood on herself. She lost that ability after a blood transfusion, but by then she had gotten really famous as she had anticipated all the enemies’ attacks and trained herself at her peak at the battle of Verdun. Vrataski introduces him to Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor), a mechanic who was discharged from his job as a scientist for all his Mimic theories. Carter explains that the Alpha is a part of the equation that the Mimics used to control time. The Omega is an unseen Mimic that does the rest, and killing it will render the Mimics unable to continue performing the same trick.
What starts is a hilarious loop of training scenes as Cage attempts to get better. However, on each failed attempt against deadly mechanized robots where he gets wounded, Vrataski routinely starts killing him so he can start over. Hilarity ensues as she kills him a lot. “You broke a leg,” she says, taking out the gun. “No, I’m fine. Wait, wait!” If you’re a Tom Cruise fan, he plays a character who evolves from zero to hero as the movie progresses. If you are not a Tom Cruise fan… he gets killed a lot (and I mean A LOT) of times. I’m not saying you’ll enjoy seeing him get killed… until it happens a few times and you realize it’s safe to laugh.
Recommended. As clever and as funny as this gets, you’ll probably notice concepts both in the storyline and visually that are borrowed from other films. That being said, there’s a point in which you can just enjoy the humor and forget that there’s a goal to be reached. Eventually, the movie will have to ditch that to get to an ending, but you can’t help but hope for another run. Whether or not we get our victory scene, the trip getting there is worth more than the finale.
Highs: Tom Cruise’s does a great work playing Cage as a sniveling coward, so seeing him fall from grace is poetic justice. He eventually does earn your respect by the most literal interpretation of trial and error, and before it gets satisfying to see him triumph it does bring a guilty pleasure to see him fail. Emily Blunt really excels as the tough-as-nails Rita Vrataski aka the Angel of Verdun aka Heavy Metal Bitch. You believe her when you see her fighting that she’s a force to be reckon with and she never loses her status as the real person driving the operation even when she’s not in screen. Bill Paxton also shines as Master Sergeant Farell.
Lows: There’s an obvious play on the Groundhog Day plot with some Starship Troopers mixed in, but it’s forgivable because it’s amusing. The Mimics resemble the sentinel tentacle machines from the Matrix a little too close. After certain objective is achieved, we see some Mimics deactivating. Why? They are not machines or are they? It’s unnecessary and makes no sense. Why is there a loop to a different point? It’s a little too convenient. It would’ve been par for the course for certain deaths to be final. There is no romance on the part of the characters, but one unnecessary kiss just hints at it for no reason.
(Source: Warner Bros. Pictures)