I get the feeling there was a bit of ‘I told you so’ going round in Hollywood after Edge Of Tomorrow failed to live up to financial expectations. And in true Tinsel Town fashion they decided the problem was the name. As a result it’s got a bit of a makeover for its home entertainment release, where the cover would suggest it’s called ‘Live. Die. Repeat’ – which to be honest is a much better name than the pretty much meaningless Edge Of Tomorrow.
The fact it barely cracked $100 million in the US certainly isn’t the film’s fault as it’s a great slice of big budget action, which for the first time in several years reminds us exactly why Tom Cruise is a movie star. And in an era of tentpole movies that try to outdo each other in how po-faced they can be (I’m blaming you, Christopher Nolan), it’s refreshing to find one that has a great sense of humour without being as dumb as much Hollywood fare (I’m blaming you, Michael Bay).
Cruise is Major Cage, who’s extremely confused when he’s railroaded into battle against some pissed-off tentacle aliens that have taken over much of the world, despite the fact he isn’t trained to fight. He’s sent off as a grunt into a beach battle – that’s deliberately reminiscent of D-Day – not even knowing how to take the safety catch off his armoured exo-suit. Unsurprisingly it’s not long before he’s killed.
That should be the end, but Cage then wakes up and discovers that it’s the beginning of the previous day all over again. He repeats the process over and over again – getting killed every time – soon working out that he needs to team up with Rita (Emily Blunt), the only person who understands what he’s going through and who may be able to help Cage end the invasion completely.
It’s a film that’s a lot of fun, with great pace, humour and some expertly handled action scenes. There may be a few plot holes, but it’s edited together in such a way that it works as a cohesive whole, ensuring the endlessly repeated day is always moving forward even if time itself is stuck on a loop.
Cruise and Blunt have great chemistry and it’s good to remember that Tom can actually be funny when he wants to, even if most of the laughs revolve around the many and varied ways he dies.
Although the premise invites obvious comparisons to Groundhog Day, it’s more accurate to say that it’s like a live-action videogame, with Cage stuck at a save point and having to work out how to get to the boss at the end of the level. The movie has a lot of fun with the idea, with Cage having to learn the rules of the game and how to control his weapons, only able to move forwards once he knows how to fight and has worked out the puzzles.
Thrown into that mix are allusions to the Second World War and also action movies themselves, with Cruise’s antics showing what would actually happen very quickly to muscle-bound Hollywood-style heroes if they lived in the real world. For example there’s a great scene where Tom has to roll underneath a truck – the sort of thing most of his characters would do with ease – but here he immediately gets squished.
After all the fun and time-bending gymnastics, it’s a bit of a shame that the ending doesn’t quite live up to what’s gone before. It certainly wraps things up, but you get the sense that they never quite worked out how to conclude the film (as the features confirm, it went into production without a finished script) and so it’s a far more tick the boxes affair than the 100 minutes that run up to it.
As you would expect, Edge Of Tomorrow looks great on Blu-ray. That’s particularly true of the aliens, which start out as a strange mass of tentacles before you begin to pick out their form and the way they move. The effects are excellent and in HD you can really see the movie’s scope.
The features are also pretty good, with a couple of interesting featurettes about the exo-suits, the aliens and the creation of the beach battle, as well as a longer overview documentary about the entire production. They’re all very well-made and surprisingly entertaining (although the ‘Isn’t Tom Cruise awesome?’ quotes get a little tiring).
I’m hoping that the Live. Die. Repeat. name remodel works and Edge Of Tomorrow becomes a big hit on DVD and Blu-ray, as I really would like to see a follow-up.
Overall Verdict: Tom Cruise show off why he’s a star (after all, we’ve all forgotten) in a movie that’s entertaining, witty and often quite smart, with plenty of great action and good ideas.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac