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Edge of Tomorrow

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LIVE.DIE.REPEAT.

Edge of Tomorrow, the adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need is Kill, is a visceral, Groundhog Day-esque military science fiction film that makes grand use of its basic premise to give viewers the adrenaline-driven thrills they expect from summer blockbuster movies.

Lieutenant Colonel William Cage ( Tom Cruise) is the face of the United States military marketing campaign, sent to Europe to encourage the allied military forces about to embark on an invasion of France, meant to be the first step in reclaiming the area overtaken by an alien invasion force.

When he unwittingly finds himself on the front lines, his first alien contact results in a condition in which his death triggers a return to a set moment in time, the day before the invasion.

Through a series of painful, and sometimes painfully comic, events Cage begins to see how his role in this war, and that of the larger-than-life heroine Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), aka The Angel of Verdun, are inextricably tied together.

Now, if he can just stop dying long enough to use this knowledge…

Director Doug Liman and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth come together to adapt All You Need is Kill in way that takes an idea that could have worn thin quickly–that of Lt. Col. William Cage’s repeatedly dying and reawakening the day prior–and instead uses it to build a film that remains engaging across its nearly two hour length.   It is that ability to keep the story from leaning too heavily on its main conceit that has generated such positive critical buzz for the film.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt bring a certain degree of cinematic gravitas to what is arguably a summer popcorn flick and though the film may not present itself to be anything but, their commitment to the roles makes it easy for the viewer to get stuck right into the action.  Critics and fans alike were split on Cruise’s sci-fi outing in 2013, the film Oblivion.  I  am an avowed fan of the film and was excited to see that Cruise would be starring in another science fiction flick this year.  While I may not be leading the Cruise fan club, I am rarely disappointed in his films.  The fact that this one featured an alien invasion and soldiers in mech-suits meant even less of a chance at disappointment.  Thus I went in with high expectations and I feel those expectations were rewarded.

The film makers used humor to great effect in Edge of Tomorrow.  The laugh-generating beats were timed perfectly to diffuse tension and yet were not so prevalent as to give the film the tongue-in-cheek air of, say, Starship Troopers.

The idea of having to relive a particularly awful day of your life is an idea that will fill you with terror if you actually give it a moment’s serious thought.  That the day in question would repeatedly end in a painful death only makes it more horrifying to contemplate.  Edge of Tomorrow does a really effective job of keeping the viewer contemplating the trauma that William Cage is enduring, and it does so particularly well in subtle ways.  Rather than spend the entire film hitting the viewer over the head with a series of resets, Edge of Tomorrow leans more heavily on that element at the beginning of the film, and then pulls away from it for longer stretches of narrative while continuing to provide dialogue-driven and visual cues to the many, many times that Cage has had to relive this particular day.  It is here where the medium of film can be used so powerfully, where a silent look can tell the audience all they need to know about what a character has been through.

Edge of Tomorrow may not be ground-breaking in its subject matter or delivery, but it can stand proud as a summer blockbuster that delivers on all its promises.  Over the last decade I have developed a fondness for reading military science fiction, and it excites me to see this kind of story delivered on the big screen.  The effects are fabulous, the presentation takes full advantage of the spectacle of a big screen, the performances by big name and unknown actors are equally pleasurable, and it is FUN from start to finish.  If you are a fan of summer sci-fi action films, you owe it to yourself to see this one at the theater.  Grab your bucket of popcorn and enjoy.