Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Repeat

Tom Cruise meets War of the Worlds, with a time travel twist. What a genius movie this is.

Tom Cruise is at the top of his game in an alien invaded world. As Major William Cage, he has single-handedly masterminded a recruitment campaign featuring the ‘Angel of Verdun’ warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). There aren’t enough trained soldiers so civilians need to line up and do their duties — again fighting them on the beaches as in World War Two. Robotic suits have been made (very Pacific Rim) and all is good. However, General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) can’t cope with Cage’s level of self-satisfied smugness (or is jealous of his advertising budget) and ships him off as a smarmy civilian to get his just deserts — literally fighting on the frontlines. As a Major who doesn’t want to fight, just advertise and pose for pictures, this is a problem.

Equally Cage’s cowardice is a problem for his new Sergeant, Master Sergeant Farell (unrecognisable but excellent Bill Paxton) and some cringe Brit stereotypes, including Jonas Armstrong. Not the actors faults, just cardboard cut out Simon Pegg-alikes in the writing and worse. Anyhow, Cage creates discomfort for his new roomies and squad, discovers that the basic versions of the robotic suits (exoskeletons) have serious malfunctions, aren’t as promised in his ads and with little to no training, they’re about to be dropped into the war zone. Here Cage encounters death, horror, vicious aliens emerging out of the beach (with lots of World War One trench warfare and Dunkirk beaches imagery in the disorientation of it all). Not to mention encountering the Angel — only to see her die immediately before his eyes, and then to be killed himself, dripping with the ooze of deceased alien as his last living memory on earth.

Only he isn’t dead — shockingly he wakes up, going through his day all over again — and repeats…. In shock from the reality of what he’s experienced in the war zone, and keen to save troops lives, we follow Cage’s attempts to tell the truth, manage repeating his day, the same events and death, learning from all this, until his eventual meeting with Rita Vrataski, (as he thinks she has the platform to stop all the nonsense). Who believes him, and introduces him to a professor who’s been experimenting with ways to defeat the alien invasion. Rita and the Prof reveal a few truths about the aliens and their affect on humans. Turns out if you get covered in their blood, you become symbiotically one with the alien borg mind (and they let you think you can win). Rita had this power and lost it — now she wants Cage for his mind palace….and puts him into an intensive training regime.

Emily Blunt plays a fantastic part here — she’s a fierce warrior, mourning the loss of her comrades, and the loss of her connections with the aliens — as if you get medical treatment before you die, the power is severed. Her irritation with Cruise’s character is very humourous (including shooting him for inappropriate comments and stealing his suit batteries on the battlefield), and she gets some great getaway driving scenes. The butting of her and Cruise’s characters is great. In real time, we get the slow burning development of a friendship and potential romance cut short. Not only does Cage want to stop the war and save lives, but he also wants to save Rita’s life — only he never can, and in one peaceful version, just wants to live out the moment, avoiding the final scene — again….The pain and loss of it is really emotional in an action intensive film.

The nerve centre of the battle is London, and French beaches — but in a very ‘Has Fallen’ franchise way, it’s thrilling to see the aliens marauding up the River Thames or disrespecting the Pompidou Center — they know culture to menace when they see it! It all goes a bit Pacific Rim/Godzilla deep trench at this point as Cage and Rita work out which one of them will sacrifice themselves to defeat the aliens — turns out they both will…(even when Cruise has lost the power to connect due to a pesky blood transfusion)…

Incredibly, Cruise gets the reset power back and with it, happily pings himself back to London in victory as the aliens crumble, encountering Rita in training mode for the ‘first time’ again, meeting the fullness of her fierce annoyance and anger at his interruption. Although she doesn’t remember him and what they’ve been through, his joyful grin at seeing her angrily alive again is a thing to behold. And I don’t think she’s getting rid of him that easily... Best of all, the end credit sequences morphs perfectly with an absolute banger — ‘Love Me Again?’ by John Newman. Perfectly summing up the movie and offering a more hopeful ending.

As a stand alone action movie, it’s a lot of fun, including the normalcy of a caravan park being torn up by scything tentacled aliens and forgetting to uncouple the caravan from your getaway vehicle…Nonetheless, most of the force of the movie is down to the leads — the powerhouse trio of Cruise, Blunt and Gleeson. There’s a terrific bit where Gleeson is confronted by Cruise and Blunt — all the while trying to carry out everyday admin. Nice too because it isn’t obvious — Cruise and Blunt don’t immediately fall for each other (or even like each other — Rita loathes Cage’s small talk on their journey), their friendship and romance takes time, and is more about love lost, than love gained, adding a poignant wartime romance element to it. Nor is Cruise’s character all Top Gun suavity to begin with — he has to learn to move away from his desk job skills — such as several attempts to stop getting squashed as he rolls under a lorry whilst escaping and even getting his suit working properly. It’s intriguing to see him playing a less sure, less sophisticated character for a change, and how his craven character develops both conscience and strength over time, to do the right things.

Best of all — how do you handle Groundhog Day? Make like Cruise and go to the pub for a pint.

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Cultures: Arts Reviews and Views by Susan Tailby

By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....Theatre, Movies, Dance & Art!