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Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
All You Need Is Kill is sci-fi author Hiroshi Sakurazaka's acclaimed 2004 young adult Japanese novella, published in English in 2009 and more recently adapted as a serialized manga comic book by writer Ryosuke Takeuchi and Eisner Award-nominated artist Takeshi Obata. Sakurazaka's military-based story is set during near-future Earth's battle against unstoppable extra-terrestrial invaders able to foretell humanity's every counter-manoeuvre, and follows the bizarre frontline perils of an untested UDF grunt struggling to escape the purgatory of continually reliving the same day but dying a different battlefield death each time.
After previewing the trailer, I figured this picture was going to be another reasonably fun yet forgettable gamer-centric flick full of boring stock characters, a goofy story and Tom Cruise running and jumping and fighting and running some more through lots of post-production CG sizzle. Edge of Tomorrow has that Hollywood-filtered first-person shooter vibe to it, and the film's "Live. Die. Repeat" tagline pretty much refers to a kind of unlimited lives hack even Pac-Man addicts probably still dream of. Fortunately, screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jeremy Jez and John-Henry Butterworth's Starship Troopers (1997) meets Source Code (2011) script crackles with an exciting urgency that tangibly escalates throughout the course of this thoroughly enjoyable movie.
Five years after a vicious horde of large squid-like spinning blurs called mimics invaded Germany from space and poured across Europe in their relentless slaughter of Mankind, the world's combined military force takes its last stand in a daring multiple offensive siege that drops an ill-prepared William Cage among hundreds of mech-augmented foot soldiers on the chaotic and suicidal battleground beaches of Normandy. He dies within minutes, but not before killing a mimic commander called an Alpha whose splattered corrosive blood somehow throws Cage into a time loop. Cage awakens hours earlier. What follows is like déjà vu, but he dies in that battle again. Then, reawakens. Dies. Adapts.
Tom Cruise is exceptional here, finally, effortlessly erasing years of crap and cheese by truly showcasing his three-time Oscar-nominated seasoned versatility on-screen while shifting from moments of highly compelling human drama to high-octane physical action and then to macabre sci-fi humour surrounding Cage's repeated deaths. Tom Cruise haters rejoice, he dies a lot here. In high definition nose hair, IMAX 3D at some theatres. Tom Cruise lovers rejoice, Edge of Tomorrow is a great Tom Cruise movie over-all. Within the context of Tom Cruise Minority Report (2002) great, not Tom Cruise Jerry Maguire (1996) great. The aliens aren't all, "You had me at 'hello' Tom Cruise." That would be weird, Tom Cruise.
One notably hilarious self-effacing scene is when Tom Cruise's character makes a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible (1996) move by evasively rolling under a moving truck and ends up as road kill. Oops. Brilliant. The other brilliant aspect of this picture is that it doesn't keep hitting the same Lazarus button as seen in the goofball romantic fantasy Groundhog Day (1993). The story progresses beyond its initial novelty of repetitively resetting the day and wisely serves up some delightfully surprising twists in the process. It's also smart how you never get a clear look at the mimic ground troops while their multi-legged forms speedily rip and stab through armoured flesh, cleverly accentuating their horrific superiority.
Kudos also go to Emily Blunt for her wonderfully captivating performance as the UDF's mysteriously victorious "Angel of Verdun" Rita Vrataski. Cage and Vrataski share an intriguing secret, and Blunt's brassy role as an outwardly brittle warrior turned Cage's empathetic co-survivor easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley from the Alien (1979) franchise. Her strong character's well-measured development arc is an absolute pleasure to watch unfold. More! Top marks as well to immensely talented film editor James Herbert, Oscar-winning cinematographer Dion Beebe and Palme d'Or nominated director Doug Liman for deftly capturing - and making sense of - some of the best adrenaline-pounding, white-knuckled sci-fi action sequences seen in a while. Awesome.
Watching Tom Cruise movies through recent years has been like watching someone you greatly admire suddenly take up playing with power tools in heavy rain, but Edge of Tomorrow seems to turn back time for Tom Cruise fans. A great cast, strong story telling and capably imaginative moviemaking perfectly come together to make this feature a smart, rollicking space invaders ride well worth checking out on the big screen. Reviewed 06/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Edge of Tomorrow is rated PG
by the Ontario Film Review Board, citing scenes containing some
grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context, use
of expletives, mild sexual references, limited use of slurs,
nudity in a non-sexual context, scenes that may cause a child
brief anxiety, or fear, limited embracing and kissing, and restrained
portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is rated G by la Régie
du Cinéma in Québec.
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