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Film review: Edge of Tomorrow ****

By Alexia Evripidou

At long last, an action sci-fi movie that quintessentially lives up to the marketing hype. Thank you Warner Bros and Village Roadshow indeed. Edge of Tomorrow is nothing short of a welcome relief to a disenchanted sci-fi action fan such as me.

This original and entertaining film welcomes back Tom Cruise to the good old days, when character acting and decent plots took priority over money churning regurgitated blockbusters. Cruise plays cowardly Major William Cage, a public relations military representative during an unprecedented and annihilating worldwide war against extra terrestrial invaders, known as Mimics.

Cage, who has never seen a day of combat in his life, is more armed with the gift of the gab than warfare. He is not exactly keen to get out there and start fighting. Operation Downfall is put into effect as humans rage war against the enemy in mechanical suits known as “jackets”. Thanks to a cowardly exchange in which Cage tries to threaten the four-star general (Brendan Gleeson) in charge of Earth’s United Defense Force (UDF), he finds himself headed directly for the front line to capture what will inevitably be a suicide mission on camera with his team. He is thrust involuntarily, unprepared and inexperienced into a complex arson of ‘digitised alien destroying armory’, and is sent out into battle. Here, he is spontaneously slaughtered with the rest of the troops within five minutes of feet landing on sand.

Edge of Tomorrow is a refreshing break from the usual. With its original concept not based on sequels or cartoon characters, the film is highly entertaining, full of action, with an engaging storyline, dark humour and thoroughly believable alien baddies with harrowing translucent mouths. Although the genre has been labeled a sci-fi, the focus of the movie is more about the evolution of the storyline and characters, rather than frightening unattractive alien creatures filling our screen.

Directed by Bourne Identity director Doug Liman, the film is based on the book All You Need Is Kill, the illustrated Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Sakurazaka’s novel was inspired by playing video games, and Edge of Tomorrow is essentially a cinematic version of Halo in which a single player gets unlimited lives so that he can learn to dodge all the enemies and win the game.

A Groundhog Day meets Aliens fusion comically continues as Cage wakes up handcuffed in the camp every time he dies. He is inexplicably thrown into a time loop, reliving the entire day, not just once but over and over again. Each time starting from scratch. Cruise spoke at a red carpet interview, of his enjoyment at finding new and funny ways to die every time he was killed on the battlefield. He managed it well; the darkness of death was replaced with the clever and comical irony of this unusual task. However, In between theatrical deaths, Cruise’s perplexed character fruitlessly tries to convince his master sergeant (Bill Paxton) and fellow soldiers of what is really happening, but to no avail.

Luckily for Cage, his path is crossed by the super talented Emily Blunt, believably the toughest action girl I have seen in a long time. Blunt’s character, Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski, is a hero of this war. Vrataski’s style is hard and no nonsense, her body buff and strong, but all of her, is credible. Her hardened realism meets Cages naivety and together they navigate the film through legions of homicidal aliens and ‘repetitive Death Syndrome’ incidents, trying to save the day.

Vrataski, too, had a period of chronic start-overs and, unlike Cage, she knows why: it has to do with those murderous extraterrestrials that can control time, and because Cage killed one of the “Alpha” Mimics, time control was passed on to him. He now has the power to “reset the day.” With the only rule being that Cage has to ensure that he actually dies and is not just injured, else he will lose the power. The only seeable perk of this ‘everyday is a fresh new day’ situation is that unlike reality, hindsight is actually on Cage’s side. Each battle Cage is met with allows him to become further able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill and knowledge.

Master Sergeant’s ‘It’s a new day people, destiny calls’ line, all of a sudden takes on a new meaning. Resetting, i.e. starting again means a bullet in the head. A bit like 50 First Dates, the characters have to connect and catch up to where they were each time. There is a real wit and charm to Edge of Tomorrow that promotional materials don’t tell you about, definitely worth a trip to the cinema.

DIRECTED BY Doug Liman
STARRING Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
USA 2014 113 mins

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