In a cinematic world dominated by capes and spandex, authentic, original science fiction has been relegated to the world of independent film. But in perhaps the most original science fiction blockbuster since Spielberg’s Minority Report, which coincidentally also starred Edge’s Tom Cruise, Warner Brothers delivers an exciting, fun, and surprisingly sentimental science fiction epic.
Cruise stars as William Cage, a United States media relations officer, who is sent to the frontlines of a global alien war by General Brigham, played by the always steady Brendan Gleeson, after he refuses to embed with a unit during the biggest assault in the history of mankind.
Cage wakes up at base camp, dazed, confused, and stripped of his rank. He’s immediately thrust into an ExoSuit, a form of weaponised armour that looks like it was ripped right from the video game Gears of War and sent into battle. Cage is rattled and confused, but with a little button mashing he manages to fight off a few “mimics” and with nothing more than sheer dumb luck takes down an “alpha.” After his subsequent death, the audience is as surprised as Cage is when he wakes up back at base camp, just as he had done the previous day.
From here, the film turns into some sort of twisted version of Groundhog Day, with Cage reliving the beach assault day after day, each ending with his death. When Cage is finally able to rescue the “Angel of Verdun”, the war’s beautiful piece of propaganda played by a tough Emily Blunt, she realises that what he’s experiencing also happened to her. She enlists Cage to find her the next day at the base, after he dies of course.
They then team up to devise a plan to find the central body of the mimics, called the “Omega”. This adds up to hundreds of days, or “resets” for Cage, and as he developed feelings for Blunt’s Rita Vrataski, it becomes harder and harder for him to watch her die, day after, day. Which gives the film an emotionality that was far from cheesy and certainly unexpected.
Doug Liman, whose previous work includes The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, expertly helms the film. He prevents the film’s main plot device, its “resets”, from becoming stale or belaboured. To do this, Liman uses the device not only for story function and to heighten drama, but also for comedy. It’s the occasional laughs and Cruise’s charm that really allow this film to shine. Edge refuses to take itself too seriously, which allows the audience to settle into the futuristic world more easily.
The film also boasts a number of impressive set pieces and action sequences. Edge excels because of a nice mix between practical and computer generated effects. Cruise and Blunt, along with the rest of the soldiers in the film, were running around in real metal suits, weighing upwards of eighty pounds, rather than skintight spandex covered in ping pong balls. The action feels raw and realistic, in part because the films stars did most of their own stunts, bringing a serious energy and desperation to the film’s action sequences.
In short, Edge is a refreshing reprieve to the stale science fiction blockbuster market. One can only hope the studios take notice and put out more original blockbusters, but until then, sit back and watch Tom Cruise live and die over and over again. It’s most certainly worth a watch.
Edge of Tomorrow is out on DVD now.