Saturday 23 September 2017

Movie reviews: Edge of Tomorrow doesn't disappoint

Director: Paul Feig. Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bechir, Marlon Wayans (15A).

Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow.
Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow.
Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow.

Doug Whelan

With some exceptions, the modern blockbuster tends to be a sequel, spin-off or reboot, so when something comes along that’s none of those it’s a curious affair. Thankfully, with Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise proves he’s still got the action and acting chops to carry a summer blockbuster, plus the eye for a quality role that’s more than just guns-blazing, balls-out action.

It may not be a franchise expedition, but that’s not to say Edge of Tomorrow is particularly original. It borrows heavily (and proudly) from a multitude of sources. Most notably it’s influenced by Aliens (great to see Bill Paxton back on the big screen), Starship Troopers and especially Saving Private Ryan as Cruise’s inexperienced private Cage is dumped on a beach amid thousands of mechanically-armoured soldiers, a global army invading Europe to fight off an unstoppable Alien race.

But it’s Groundhog Day that Edge of Tomorrow has to thank the most, as Cage comes to realise he’s living that same day over and over again. It’s not true love he has to find in order to break the loop; it’s the source of the enemy’s power. Enter Emily Blunt’s sword-wielding poster girl for the Allies’ war effort. She believes Cage’s story and takes to training him to fight his way off the beach and save the world.

Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and his screenwriting team of Christopher McQuarrie and brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (adapting Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 ‘light novel’ All You Need is Kill) keep proceedings fresh despite the repetitive nature of the events. Similar to Duncan Jones’ underrated Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow drip-feeds the audience intriguing plot twists and deftly expands the story each time out, while also coming up with novel ways for Cruise to meet his end – sometimes mid-battle, sometimes at the end of Emily Blunt’s pistol following another failed training beat-down.

Edge of Tomorrow is loud and flashy and Liman makes good, sometimes impressive use of the 3D technology at hand – the initial beach invasion in particular makes for a visual treat. But the film also takes a moment throughout to ruminate on the contradictions of war. “We are masters of our own fate,” Paxton reminds his squad at one point (they’re not) while later, Blunt’s Rita Vrataski asks: “Why does it matter what happens to me?” (It does). The result is a smart and fun sci-fi that may not add much in the way of originality but has enough going for it, including a captivating and confident performance from Cruise, to make it stand out in yet another summer of similarly old ideas.

Rating: 4 Stars

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