FILM REVIEW: Edge of Tomorrow

Tom switches gear from cruise control to full throttle in what may be his finest sci-fi outing to date!

Well, I must confess that after last year’s Oblivion, my hopes were not high for this film.  I don’t have anything against Cruise – I loved him in Minority ReportInterview With The Vampire and course the Mission: Impossible franchise. But in both Oblivion and also Jack Reacher, he seemed to lose some of his sparkle, so when I saw the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow – which came across as Battle Los Angeles crossed with Groundhog Day, I was a bit worried.

Well, I can honestly (and happily) say that my fears were totally unfounded and this is possibly Cruise’s genre highpoint – and a vast improvement on War of the Worlds, where there may be some parallels to be drawn.

The film is set in a not-to-distant future. The world has been subjected to an alien invasion by the Mimics. I won’t go into them in great depth for now, but they are numerous, powerful, smart and organised in a bee colony fashion. Starting in Hamburg they quickly expand across mainland Europe. The nations of the world come together as the UDF (United Defence Force) and the pinnacle of their combined effort is The Jacket – a ballistic exo-skeleton that is armed to the teeth and issued to every UDF infantry member (think Ripley in Aliens). Emily Blunt plays Rita – aka Full Metal Bitch – a fearsome warrior with an impressive track record, and quite literally the poster child for UDF and the war effort (again, think Ripley in Aliens). The UDF are about to embark on the tactical masterstroke: Operation Downfall, a D-Day-style invasion that will see the entire UDF infantry drop en-masse into Europe and take the fight to the enemy in the heartland. The story is set the day before this global assault.

Cruise play Cage, a marketer (all the best heroes are in marketing! :-)) who works for the US Army selling the war effort to the world in order to recruit more troops. Against his better judgment he annoys UDF supremo (a capable, but almost pedestrian Brendan Gleeson) and is shipped off to front-line. Ill-prepared for close-combat he finds him in a reject platoon, J Squad, led by by-the-book Sgt. Farrel (a fully on-form Bill Paxton), and is sent off in the first landing wave. The landing is a disaster, the enemy are all over the UDF, and Cruise first sees Rita die, and then dies himself.

However, due to the circumstances of his death, he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again, each time retaining all the experience and knowledge of the “previous” day with each “relived” day (if you’ve seen Groundhog Day or Source Code, you’ll know this plot mechanism). As his knowledge of both Rita and the day’s events increases, the two of them come to understand that Operation Downfall may not be the Earth saviour plan, and set about following their own mission.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this film! It has some very inventive plot-mechanisms that really keep the story coherent and cohesive, which is always an issue when dealing with time control / time travel storylines – precarious by nature. The film is split in two: part in-your-face combat war movie, and the time-control segments. The time-control side is handled well – I was concerned that too much screen time would be taken up reliving scenes we’d already seen – but it is very lean on this and they recount just enough to move you to next chapter of the story. And where appropriate, they inject just a little humour on the opportunities where time is repeating itself and one protagonist knows what’s going to happen next, but not enough to ruin the tone of the film. And the tone is one of action – lots of close combat shots, explosions, the usual mayhem & confusion of infantry-based warfare, made all that more visceral by seeing it through Cruise’s war-virgin eyes. The performances are all top notch, and kudos also goes to the supporting cast in J Squad. Cruise is well and truly on form, and Blunt, whom I don’t really know apart from Looper, is very credible in her role as a Ripley / Sarah Connor-esque soldier.

I saw this performance in 3D, although in truth, you only get the benefit of 3D during explosions. The set pieces such as the landing are very effective, and the SFX don’t swamp the contribution of the actors. The Mimics, well I won’t spoil it for you, but I was impressed with how they appeared on screen, and they certainly do provide a formidable adversary for the human population. Oh, and just one final word – a good soundtrack with 1 or 2 songs I will be searching out on iTunes in due course!

GS Blogger: SilverFox

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