In a cinematic world overrun by rehashed ideas, sequels, prequels and reboots…it’s both ironic and a minor miracle that a film about resetting time over and over and over would be such a solid piece of entertainment.
There’s absolutely nothing revolutionary about Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman’s polished adaptation of the Japanese book All You Need is Kill (a much snarkier title that fits the themes very well), yet it all works. Here’s Tom Cruise as another smug character unwittingly thrust into saving the world…yet he manages to imbue his performance with a dark sense of humor that allows you to forgive the tropes of this quasi-messianic overcooked tripe. Here’s yet another “grunts vs. aliens” invasion/war set-up…yet when handled in a competent way, the cliché can still be fun to watch. And here are the hive-like aliens…called mimics (for what reason???)…who can meld time (naturally) to anticipate enemy moves…that look something like a Lord of the Rings reject monster wrapped in Matrix machinery and move like octopi…that, hey, as silly and derivative as they are, when brought to life by slick effects and well-orchestrated battle madness can still seem special and cool. Oh, and the coup de grace…let’s add a Groundhog Day element (remember the mimics can reset time) that leads to inevitable scenes of Cruise dying over and over and over again while he tries to get others to believe him and locate the Omega mimic (essentially the queen)…and in one humorous montage repeatedly is shot by Emily Blunt (his trainer and cohort in this time tripping madness) like an injured horse.
I won’t bore you with any more details of the plot or dissect the logic of the time travel. With any film like this, you must accept leaps of logic, and for the better part of the film the mechanics of the time resets makes sense within the context of the film’s own loopy premise and rules…until the very end, when the last reset just doesn’t make any sense…but I mean, who cares, right?
This thing is a well-crafted, well-acted, competently directed, mass appeal star-vehicle summer tent-pole film that ironically doesn’t seem to fit into the market anymore…at least not in the way these types of films used to rule the roost. Which is a shame. In my mind I did my own bit of time travel…and imagined this directed by Paul Verhoeven circa 1991 (a little more satire would’ve moved this from good to great). It would’ve made a fitting companion film to Total Recall…but then would it have come across as redundant?
So ultimately what we have here is exactly as advertised. Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers…and it’s pretty damn fun.
Written by David H. Schleicher