Edge of Tomorrow

Aliens meets Groundhog Day: Tom Cruise tries to save the world again, and again, and again...

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 05.06.2014 09:04 (updated on 05.06.2014)

Also opening this week:

Edge of Tomorrow

Rating

Directed by Doug Liman. Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Jeremy Piven, Lara Pulver, Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Kick Gurry, Dragomir Mrsic, Lee Asquith-Coe, Madeleine Mantock, Tony Way. Written by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth, from the graphic novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroši Sakurazaka.

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Here it is, the 2014 summer blockbuster to beat: Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow (forgive the awful title) is a high-concept, high-powered ride through – and through, and through – a D-Day-like assault on an alien menace that has invaded Europe, with our hero (played by Tom Cruise) continually waking up on the eve of destruction every time he’s killed in battle. 

The time loop concept is irresistible. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s disgruntled weatherman finds himself stuck on February 2nd, with no way out; a similar fate awaits the hero of 12:01, which was first an Oscar-nominated short and then a 1993 TV film directed by Jack Sholder. Both films are so engaging I’ve often wondered why no-one else decided to borrow the same story device. 

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Until now. Those earlier films used the time loop premise as a metaphor for the mundanity of our day-to-day existence, but Edge of Tomorrow ups the stakes by both having its lead repeat the crucial day in the future of mankind, and giving him some clear goals (i.e., a way to get out of the loop and set things right). There’s a little less intrigue – and social commentary – going on here, but what the film lacks in thematic substance it makes up for in free-wheelin’ fun. 

Cruise stars as William Cage, a U.S. Major with no combat experience who – as we see in a fast & loose opening credit montage – has served as a voice of propaganda for clunky metallic war suits that an international army employs to combat the alien menace. We can’t imagine anyone fighting fast-moving monsters in these hunks o’ junk (which recall Ripley’s Power Loader in Aliens), but the suit has created a military superstar in Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who makes mincemeat of the invading creatures in Verdun.

A little background: we don’t know where they come from or why they’re here, but the aliens have crash-landed in the middle of Germany, infected just about all of mainland Europe, and are quickly spreading outward (but no, don’t bother looking for any Nazi allegories here). The creatures (called Mimics) are whirling metallic junkpiles: a cross between the Alien creature design and a Transformers-like monster. But what they lack in personality they make up for in sheer terror: we rarely get a glimpse of their faces, but when we do, they make it count.

The gutless Cage is forced against his will to the front line of combat by a General (Brendan Gleeson) who seems to have it in for him for some reason, and he wakes up at the feet of a Master Sergeant (Bill Paxton, recalling his role in Aliens) with no way of talking his way out of his situation.

Cage ships off with J-Squad – comprised of the usual rugged collection of war movie clichés – for a French beach assault that reminds us of the Normandy sequence in Saving Private Ryan. His inexperience in battle quickly proves to be his downfall, but a funny thing happened on the way to the afterlife, and Cage wakes up right back where he started, at the feet of the Master Sergeant. 

Repeating his first day of combat for an eternity, Cage quickly becomes battle-hardened, and tracks down Blunt’s Vrataski and a military scientist played by Noah Taylor for support. I don’t want to spoil anything – a lot of the fun in movies like this comes from the hows and whys of the central conceit – but I was surprised how logically the time loop scenario is explained. It ain’t satisfyingly sci-fi ambiguous, but it’s a perfect action-movie device.

Director Doug Liman (who gained fame with Swingers and Go in the 90s) has been up and down through the blockbuster realm, following up the franchise-starting The Bourne Identity with the abysmal Mr. & Mrs. Smith (which, nevertheless, made money) and Jumper (which didn’t). But he re-gained some cred with the Valerie Plame drama Fair Game, and has burst back onto the Hollywood landscape with Edge of Tomorrow, which is his most expensive (at a $175 million budget) – and, I think, best – film to date. 

He’s working from a script by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game) and Christopher McQuarrie (who wrote and directed the underrated Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher), who have adapted the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. That was the film’s original title, and infinitely superior to the ultra-bland Edge of Tomorrow

We get so few thoughtful sci-fi pictures in mainstream cinema that I’m willing to forgive (to some extent) flawed but imaginative features like Transcendence or Cruise’s last film, Oblivion. But Edge of Tomorrow needs no such charity: pairing a fascinating premise with action-packed sci-fi a la James Cameron’s Aliens, it’s simply a blast.

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8.3.12:John Carter ★★★ | Haywire ★★★ | The Grey ★★★
5.3.12:The Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think ★★★★
1.3.12:Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance ★★ | The Iron Lady ★½ | The Devil Inside ★
23.2.12:War Horse ★★★½ | The Woman in Black ★★★ | My Week with Marilyn ★★½ | This Means War ★½
16.2.12:The Artist ★★★★ | Shame ★★★★ | Safe House ★★½
9.2.12:The Phantom Menace 3D ★★★ | Man on a Ledge ★★½ | The Ides of March ★★★½ | Jack and Jill ★
2.2.12:Hugo ★★★★ | Chronicle ★★★ | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ★★½ | Perfect Sense ★★½
26.1.12:Contraband ★★½ | A Dangerous Method ★★★ | Carnage ★★★ | The Help ★★★
19.1.12:The Descendants ★★★½ | Underworld: Awakening ★★
12.1.12:The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ★★★½ | Machine Gun Preacher ★★½
8.1.12:A Separation ★★★★
5.1.12:Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows ★★★½
29.12.11:The Darkest Hour ★★
22.12.11:The Inbetweeners Movie ★★ | Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked ★½
15.12.11:Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol ★★★
8.12.11:New Year’s Eve ★½ | The Rum Diary ★★★½ | The Thing ★★½
1.12.11:Moneyball ★★★★ | Puss in Boots ★★★
24.11.11:Immortals ★★★
17.11.11:The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 ★★★½ | I Don’t Know How She Does It ★
10.11.11:Real Steel ★★★ | Tower Heist ★★½ | Anonymous ★★½
3.11.11: In Time ★★½
27.10.11:Adventures of Tintin ★★★★ | The Debt ★★½ | Larry Crowne ★★½ | Cave of Forgotten Dreams ★★★½
20.10.11:Paranormal Activity 3 ★★★ | The Three Musketeers ★ | Contagion ★★★½
13.10.11:Johnny English Reborn ★★½
6.10.11:Killer Elite ★★★ | One Day ★★ | Dream House ★½
29.9.11:Friends with Benefits ★★½ | Abduction ★
27.9.11:The Skin I Live In ★★★½
22.9.11:Midnight in Paris ★★★½ | Colombiana ★★½ | Shark Night 3D ★½
15.9.11:Drive ★★★★ | Pina ★★★½ | Crazy, Stupid, Love. ★★½ | Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark ★★½
8.9.11:Super 8 ★★★½ | Final Destination 5 ★★★
25.8.11:Cowboys & Aliens ★★
18.8.11:Conan the Barbarian ★★ | Green Lantern ★★½ | Win Win ★★★½ | Womb ★½
11.8.11:Rise of the Planet of the Apes ★★★ | The Lincoln Lawyer ★★★
4.8.11:Captain America: The First Avenger ★★★ | Horrible Bosses ★★★
28.7.11:Cars 2 ★★½ | Jane Eyre ★★★½ | Bad Teacher ★½ | The Resident ★★
21.7.11:The Tree of Life ★★★★ | The Mechanic ★★
14.7.11:Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ★★★½ | Submarine ★★★½
7.7.11:Hanna ★★★½ | Bridesmaids ★★★½
30.6.11:Transformers: Dark of the Moon ★½
16.6.11:Your Highness ★½
9.6.11:The Hangover Part 2 ★★★ | Paul ★★½ | Skyline ★½
2.6.11:X-Men: First Class ★★★½
26.5.11:Melancholia ★★★★
19.5.11:Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ★★½
12.5.11:Priest 3D ★★ | Water for Elephants ★★★ | Something Borrowed ★★ | Tetro ★★★½
5.5.11: Fast Five
28.4.11: Thor
21.4.11: Source Code | The Eagle | Mr. Nice
14.4.11: Scream 4 | Just Go with It | Unknown | Somewhere
7.4.11: The Way Back | Love and Other Drugs | Jack Goes Boating | I Am Number Four
31.3.11: Sucker Punch | No Strings Attached | My Soul to Take
24.3.11: Limitless
17.3.11: The Dilemma | The Rite | Sanctum
10.3.11: Rango | The King’s Speech
3.3.11: The Adjustment Bureau | Drive Angry 3D
24.2.11: The Fighter | Morning Glory
17.2.11: True Grit | Burlesque
10.2.11: Black Swan | London Boulevard
3.2.11: 127 Hours
27.1.11: The Tourist | Tangled | Chain Letter
20.1.11: The Next Three Days | Gulliver’s Travels
13.1.11: The Green Hornet | Season of the Witch | Another Year
6.1.11: The Kids Are All Right | The Good Heart
16.12.10: TRON: Legacy | Paranormal Activity 2
9.12.10: Megamind
2.12.10: Due Date | The American
25.11.10: The Other Guys | The Switch
18.11.10: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
11.11.10: Howl | Devil
4.11.10: The Social Network | You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger | Saw 3D
28.10.10: Red | Animal Kingdom
21.10.10: Four Lions
14.10.10: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World | Eat Pray Love | Machete
7.10.10: DVD Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop
30.9.10: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
23.9.10: Resident Evil: Afterlife
16.9.10: The Karate Kid | Going the Distance
9.9.10: Největší z Čechů
2.9.10: Step Up 3D | Ondine
26.8.10: Grown Ups
19.8.10: The Expendables | The Sorcerer’s Apprentice | A Serious Man | When You’re Strange
12.8.10: Salt
5.8.10: Get Him to the Greek
29.7.10: Knight and Day | Bunny and the Bull
22.7.10: Inception | Agora
15.7.10: Shrek Forever After | A Single Man | The Rebound | Mr. Nobody
8.7.10: Predators | Letters to Juliet
1.7.10: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
24.6.10: Killers | Solomon Kane
17.6.10: Toy Story 3 | The A-Team | From Paris with Love | The Back-up Plan
10.6.10: The Ghost Writer
3.6.10: Sex and the City 2 | Green Zone
27.5.10: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time | Brooklyn’s Finest | Precious
20.5.10: Hot Tub Time Machine
13.5.10: Robin Hood | Whatever Works
6.5.10: Kick-Ass
29.4.10: Iron Man 2 | The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans | The Road
22.4.10: The Bounty Hunter | The Crazies
15.4.10: Clash of the Titans | An Education
1.4.10: Moon | The Men Who Stare at Goats | Everybody’s Fine
25.3.10: Remember Me | Leap Year | Babylon A.D.
18.3.10: The Lovely Bones | Legion
11.3.10: Daybreakers | Dear John | Mammoth
4.3.10: Alice in Wonderland | Nine
25.2.10: Shutter Island | The Hurt Locker
18.2.10: The Wolfman | Valentine’s Day | Edge of Darkness
11.2.10: The Book of Eli | In Search of a Midnight Kiss
4.2.10: Capitalism: A Love Story | Brothers | The Box | Did You Hear About the Morgans?
28.1.10: Up in the Air | The Fourth Kind | New York, I Love You
21.1.10: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus | It’s Complicated | Black Dynamite
14.1.10: Sherlock Holmes
7.1.10: Fame
17.12.09: Avatar | Whip It
10.12.09: Spread
3.12.09: Zombieland | A Perfect Getaway
26.11.09: The Twilight Saga: New Moon | Antichrist
19.11.09: Paranormal Activity | Law Abiding Citizen | The Time Traveller’s Wife
12.11.09: 2012
5.11.09: My Life in Ruins
29.10.09: This Is It, Love Happens, Halloween II
22.10.09: Fifty Dead Men Walking, Saw VI
15.10.09: The Brothers Bloom, The Ugly Truth, The Final Destination
8.10.09: Surrogates
1.10.09: Julie & Julia, Hunger
24.9.09: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Gamer, Night of the Living Dead 3D
17.9.09: District 9
3.9.09: The Taking of Pelham 123, Man on Wire
27.8.09: Inglourious Basterds, Taking Woodstock, The Proposal
20.8.09: Up, Two Lovers
13.8.09: G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra
6.8.09: Brüno
30.7.09: The Boat That Rocked, Away We Go, Knowing
23.7.09: Crank: High Voltage, Bronson, The Accidental Husband
16.7.09: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Limits of Control
9.7.09: Public Enemies, The Wrestler
2.7.09: Fighting
25.6.09: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
18.6.09: The Hangover, Drag Me to Hell, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
11.6.09: Coraline, The Secret of Moonacre
4.6.09: Terminator Salvation, I Love You, Man
28.5.09: State of Play, Bottle Shock, New in Town
21.5.09: The Last House on the Left
14.5.09: Angels & Demons
7.5.09: Star Trek, Duplicity, 17 Again
30.4.09: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, My Bloody Valentine
23.4.09: Synecdoche, New York, The Reader, Friday the 13th
16.4.09: Gran Torino, Defiance, Hotel for Dogs, Confessions of a Shopaholic
9.4.09: The Visitor, Happy-Go-Lucky
2.4.09: Fast & Furious, Bride Wars
19.3.09: He’s Just Not That Into You, Battle in Seattle, Sex Drive, The Unborn
12.3.09: Seven Pounds, Marley & Me
5.3.09: Watchmen, Doubt
26.2.09: Slumdog Millionaire, The Duchess, The Pink Panther 2
19.2.09: Frost/Nixon, The Spirit, Transporter 3, City of Ember, Bolt
12.2.09: Valkyrie, Milk
5.2.09: The Tale of Despereaux, Bedtime Stories
29.1.09: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road
22.1.09: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Traitor
15.1.09: Burn After Reading, Yes Man, Che: Part One, My Best Friend’s Girl
8.1.09: Changeling
2.1.09: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
25.12.08: Australia
11.12.08: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Four Christmases, Paranoid Park, Make It Happen
4.12.08: Bangkok Dangerous, High School Musical 3: Senior Year
27.11.08: Twilight, Body of Lies
20.11.08: Death Race, Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Strangers
13.11.08: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
6.11.08: Quantum of Solace, The Women
30.10.08: Max Payne, Nights in Rodanthe, The Other Boleyn Girl
23.10.08: Vicki Christina Barcelona, The Forbidden Kingdom
16.10.08: Nightwatching, Taken, Juno
9.10.08: Elegy, Mirrors
2.10.08: Eagle Eye, Disaster Movie
25.9.08: 2 Days in Paris
18.9.08: Tropic Thunder, Star Wars: The Clone Wars
04.9.08: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Journey to the Center of the Earth
28.8.08: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
21.8.08: Funny Games U.S.
14.8.08: WALL•E, Meet Dave, Then She Found Me, The Orphanage
7.8.08: The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia!
31.7.08: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
24.7.08: The X-Files: I Want to Believe
17.7.08: The Incredible Hulk, Shine a Light, Be Kind Rewind, Nim’s Island, Made of Honor
10.7.08: Get Smart
3.7.08: Kung Fu Panda, Hancock
26.6.08: Wanted
19.6.08: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Forgetting Sarah Marshall
12.6.08: The Happening, My Blueberry Nights
5.6.08: Sex and the City, Penelope
29.5.08: 21, Untraceable
22.5.08: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
15.5.08: What Happens in Vegas
8.5.08: In Bruges, Speed Racer
1.5.08: Iron Man, Paris, je t’aime
24.4.08: Into the Wild, Fools Gold, Wedding Daze, Superhero Movie
17.4.08: Breath, Frontier(s)
10.4.08: Horton Hears a Who, Doomsday, Vantage Point, Sleuth
3.4.08: In the Valley of Elah, The Bucket List
27.3.08: There Will Be Blood, 27 Dresses
20.3.08: Resurrecting the Champ, Reservation Road
13.3.08: Control, 10,000 BC
6.3.08: 3:10 to Yuma, Jumper
28.2.08: No Country for Old Men, Step Up 2 the Streets
21.2.08: Before the Devil Knows Youre Dead, Rambo, The Eye
14.2.08: National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Charlie Wilsons War, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
7.2.08: Sweeney Todd, We Own the Night, The Kite Runner
31.1.08: Atonement
24.1.08: The Darjeeling Limited, Cloverfield
17.1.08: Michael Clayton, Lust, Caution, Love in the Time of Cholera
10.1.08: Eastern Promises, I Am Legend
3.1.08: American Gangster
20.12.07: P.S. I Love You
13.12.07: The Golden Compass, Hitman
29.11.07: Across the Universe, Beowolf, Balls of Fury, Halloween
22.11.07: Shoot Em Up, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
15.11.07: The Heartbreak Kid, Resident Evil: Extinction
8.11.07: Lions for Lambs, The Last Legion
1.11.07: 30 Days of Night, The Invasion, Sicko, The Good Shepherd
25.10.07: Once, Superbad, Feast of Love, The Seeker
18.10.07: The Brave One, A Mighty Heart
11.10.07: The Kingdom, 1408, Becoming Jane, Snow Cake
4.10.07: Knocked Up
27.9.07: Stardust, Grindhouse, Gympl
20.9.07: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Evening, Disturbia
13.9.07: Ratatouille, The Hoax, No Reservations
6.9.07: Rush Hour 3, Day Watch, Medvidek
30.8.07: The Bourne Ultimatum, Irina Palm
23.8.07: Hairspray, Planet Terror, Evan Almighty, Interview
16.8.07: Transformers
9.8.07: Mr. Brooks, Pans Labyrinth, Surfs Up
2.8.07: Fracture, Venus, Next
26.7.07: The Simpsons Movie, Angel
19.7.07: Harry Potter 5, The Good Night
12.7.07: Inland Empire, Factory Girl, The Messengers, Hostel 2
5.7.07: Death Proof, Oceans 13, Miss Potter, Fantastic Four 2
28.6.07: Live Free or Die Hard
21.6.07: Pathfinder, Curse of the Golden Flower
14.6.07: Shrek the Third
7.6.07: Hot Fuzz, Zodiac, Because I Said So
31.5.07: Premonition, Black Book
24.5.07: Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End
17.5.07: The Number 23
10.5.07: Renaissance, The Painted Veil, Wild Hogs, Epic Movie
3.5.07: Spider-Man 3, Copying Beethoven, Sherrybaby
26.4.07: Shooter, The Reaping
19.4.07: Sunshine, Alpha Dog, TMNT, Perfect Stranger
12.4.07: The Hill Have Eyes II, Norbit
5.4.07: Stranger Than Fiction, Notes on a Scandal, Meet the Robinsons, Red Road, Blood & Chocolate
29.3.07: Flags of our Fathers
22.3.07: 300, Sketches of Frank Gehry, Black Christmas
15.3.07: Ghost Rider, Music and Lyrics, Feast, Employee of the Month 
8.3.07: The Fountain
1.3.07: Rocky Balboa, School for Scoundrels
22.2.07: Little Children, Babel, Dreamgirls, Hannibal Rising, The Darwin Awards
15.2.07: Smokin Aces, The Queen
8.2.07: The Last King of Scotland, Pursuit of Happyness, and Crank

Czech Films

Green Horse Rustlers (18.09.16)
The Wolf of Royal Vineyard Street (14.09.16)
The Teacher (30.08.16)
We Are Never Alone (20.04.16)
Pat and Mat: The Movie (07.04.16)
Teorie tygra (05.04.16)
I, Olga Hepnarová (31.03.16)
Rudý kapitán (17.03.16)
Rodinný film (25.02.16)
Lída Baarová
(22.01.16)
Amerika (01.11.15)
Domácí péče (Home Care) (02.08.15)
Mallory (27.07.15)
Malý Pán (The Little Man) (08.05.15)
Fotograf
(20.03.15)
Kobry a užovky (The Snake Brothers) (10.03.15)
Pohádkář (Storyteller) (01.12.14)
Magický hlas rebelky (The Magic Voice of a Rebel) (05.08.14)
Parádně pokecal (Totally Talking) (05.08.14)
Díra u Hanušovic (Nowhere in Moravia) (25.07.14)
Všiváci (03.07.14)
Cesta ven (10.06.14)
Olga (22.05.14)
Hany (19.05.14)
Signál (20.11.12)
Spalovač mrtvol (16.10.12)
Lemonade Joe (17.9.12)
Svatá čtveřice (16.9.12) 
Poupata (23.8.12)
Lidice (27.6.12)
Tmář a jeho rod aneb Slzavé údolí pyramid (28.5.12)
Vendeta (26.5.12)
Alois Nebel
(2.5.12)
Rodina je základ státu
(3.4.12)
V peřině
(14.2.12)
Odcházení (Leaving)
(16.1.12)
Tajemství hradu v Karpatech
(26.10.11)
Katka (1.9.2011)
Rozmarné léto (Capricious Summer) (20.8.2011)
Kuky se vrací (25.7.2011)
Přežít svůj život (Surviving Life) (23.6.2011)
Občanský průkaz (23.5.2011)
Pouta (22.3.2011)
Kristián (07.02.11)
Kajínek (20.12.10)
Protektor (15.11.10)
Největší z Čechů (09.09.10)
Kinoautomat (22.06.09)
Na půdě aneb Kdo má dneska narozeniny? (07.04.09)
Bathory (12.07.08)
Domov (05.02.08)
Gympl (02.10.07)
Medvídek (10.09.07)
I Served the King of England (21.01.07)
Pravidla lži (19.12.06)
Grandhotel (05.12.06)
Hezké chvilky bez záruky (29.09.06)
Kráska v nesnázích (08.09.06)
Šílení (21.12.05)