Edge of Tomorrow is a good movie. Go see it. That’s not quite enough though so here goes. Adapted from the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill, the premise of Edge of Tomorrow (EoT) sees Tom Cruise’s character William Cage overwhelmingly unprepared and unwillingly sent to the front line in a battle against an invading alien threat known as the “Mimics”. The film’s conceit that sets it apart happens when not long into the engagement, Cage dies, and immediately wakes up again prior to the battle having to live the same day again, learning a little more each time until he saves the day. I feel okay giving that much away because the trailers have beaten me to it, I’ll leave plot details there though. It’s Groundhog Day with lots of action a monster to defeat at the end, and it works.
Tom Cruise is utilised well. He brings a sense of plausibility to a man in the unique situation Cage faces. The constantly brand new relationship he shares with co-star Emily Blunt’s character Rita Vrataski (aka the “Full Metal Bitch”) is also handled deftly, never dwelling on their numerous reintroductions for too long and allowing them to get on with the plot, interacting sincerely as they go. There’s a particularly nice penny drop moment towards the end of the second act that both actors play especially well. My one criticism would be perhaps that Blunt didn’t have quite as much to do as I personally would have liked. Also the rest of the numerous cast for the most part go without any real development, instead, we find out through quickly delivered exposition what each one is vaguely about.
Getting on to the cinematography, this film looks great. The effects are top notch throughout with everything looking sufficiently gritty without falling into the trap of becoming dour. In fact, there were several laughs from the audience during my screening. Being based on a Japanese light novel as noted I felt there was a real risk with this film being homogenised to a Michael Bay level. Pleasantly surprised I was then to see the film not being set on Planet America and instead taking place across various locations in Europe. EoT is also in certain ways incredibly Japanese at times in its aesthetic. This is present mainly in the mechs used and in Emily Blunt’s brilliant sword which could have been a show stealer if there was only a bit more of it. It is all a lot of fun and doesn’t clash with the big budget American production behind it.
Sadly, it can’t all be praise. EoT’s final big bad that needs defeating functions as nothing more than a McGuffin when all is done and the film doesn’t really aspire to say much past that. At least, if there was a deeper subtext going on, I remained unaware of it. There’s some basic Freudian imagery during the final showdown but other than that I feel the film maybe missed some easy chances to use its plot to make a broader social comment.
There are other films that preceded EoT like Source Code that do a similar thing. So why see this if you’ve seen that? EoT sets itself apart by having a tone it manages to strike a balance between humour, action, pacing, and suspense. The screenplay doesn’t linger too long on exposition and instead trusts its audience to follow the narrative through its twists and turns really allowing it to be a romp while it lasts (it is around 2 hours and I happily could have watched at least another half hour of it). As far as summer blockbusters go this is a winner. I’ve heard it said that “great” science fiction has something to say and I agree with that; EoT is no Starship Troopers. That doesn’t stop EoT from being “good” science fiction and something worthwhile in its own right. EoT combines an interesting premise with action, humour, great effects, and a refreshing sincerity to achieve that. Edge of Tomorrow is a good movie, one worthy of the ticket price.