Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) Edge of Tomorrow sees William Cage (Cruise), a public relations officer for the army, get drafted to the front lines in the war with the mimics: nasty animal-like aliens that resemble buzz-saws when travelling at full speed.
After dropping onto the battlefield in epic fashion, Cage is almost instantly killed, but absorbs a mimic’s blood in the process, giving him the power to “reload” and “Live, Die, Repeat,” as the movie’s tagline says.
Cage looks to Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the army’s star soldier, for help. She also had the power until she didn’t quite die and got a blood transfusion while unconscious.
Edge is based on All You Need Is Kill, a Japanese light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka with illustrations by Yoshitoshi Abe published in 2004. (It was later adapted into a manga and a graphic novel for American audiences in 2014)
Edge of Tomorrow is actually a lot funnier than I thought it would be, and the marketing campaign failed to really convey how darkly comedic it is to see Tom Cruise constantly fail as an action hero.
I can’t really talk about Edge without drawing comparisons to movies like Battleship Troopers and of course Groundhog Day, but I’d rather focus on its most original aspect: Tom Cruise… or is he the anti-Tom Cruise?
Cage is nothing like Cruise’s Mission Impossible-style characters; he’s a coward and stands no chance of surviving on the battlefield. The way Cage eventually uses humour and perfect foresight to get through training makes him one of Cruise’s more likeable characters, but the psychological struggle of constantly failing and dying as a result gives him more depth than the average action hero. (In one ‘turn’ he chooses to leave the army and drink so that he can live for a few extra hours before the mimics roll through)
Liman keeps Edge running at a high speed, and keeps the Groundhog Day plot contrivance from bogging down the story by keeping repeated scenes to a minimum. Visually, Edge has the look of a WWII movie with drained colors and muddy European battlefields bringing Saving Private Ryan to mind. One thing that disappointed me, though, was the look of the mimics.
While I understand having the baddies look like cannonballs with teeth is a little too strange for a live-action movie, the mimics in Edge lack a certain amount of personality. They’re deadly, yes, but they don’t get under my skin the way the manga versions do.
Also, the exoskeleton suits Cruise and Blunt are often wearing felt a little too dull and close to Elysium for my taste. I would have preferred the full-body mechanical suit from the manga. Yes, I know when you cast Tom Cruise in a movie you expect to see his face. But if Iron Man can make it work, this movie ought to.
On the plus side, sci-fi fans get to see Bill Paxton fight aliens like he did in Aliens. And trust me, there is nothing funnier than seeing Bill Paxton go from being fearless to scared shitless.
Edge is funny, action-packed, and a lot more entertaining than I expected. But for all its tight direction, witty dialogue, and strong performances, Edge is still a movie about Tom Cruise fighting aliens, and you won’t walk away feeling like you saw much more than that.