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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Tom Cruise
Emily Blunt
Bill Paxton
Dragomir Mrsic
Charlotte Riley
Jonas Armstrong
Franz Drameh
Kick gurry.
Directors
Doug Liman.
Screenwriters
Christopher McQuarrie
Jez Butterworth
John-Henry Butterworth.
Running Time
113 minutes

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Edge Of Tomorrow
The Reborn Identity


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Plot
Lieutenant William Cage (Cruise) is the top PR man for the UK-based United Defence Force, which is fighting a major alien invasion that’s already swallowed most of Europe and Russia. After being demoted and press-ganged into service for ‘Operation Downfall’, the last big push on the beaches of Normandy, Cage is killed by one of the attacking “mimics”. Then he wakes up, alive again, on the morning of his second-to-last day...


Review
Edge Of Tomorrow
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On the face of it, there is nothing particularly original about Edge Of Tomorrow. Brush your hand across its gritty surface and you’ll smear the thin layer off a teeming nest of influences: Groundhog Day, the most obvious, for its time-loop plot engine (and by extension Source Code); Saving Private Ryan, for its French-beach brutality; Aliens, Starship Troopers and the Matrix trilogy for its bombastic portrayal of big-tech conflict with multi-limbed, insectoid-biomechanical extra-terrestrials. It’s exquisitely apposite that, if you’re coming to this film from a healthy upbringing on action-sci-fi cinema of the ’80s and ’90s (with Harold Ramis’ clock-resetting comedy being the one rom-com it was okay for you to love), you’ll experience a throbbing sense of déjà vu — only made more acute by the film’s shared chromosomes with last year’s Elysium and that other Tom Cruise-on-a-devastated-Earth picture, Oblivion.

None of which is to diminish Empire’s recommendation: director Doug Liman and his screenwriting triumvirate of Christopher McQuarrie and brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (adapting Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s light novel All You Need Is Kill) wear all these influences well, and with pride. Why else enlist the ever-reliable Bill Paxton as a puff-chested, adage-chewing sergeant if not to wink at his past life as a colonial marine? Edge Of Tomorrow may be hugely familiar, but welcomingly so. And it also proves to be huge fun.

This is in no small part to the movie’s most significant influence of all: video games. While we still await an even remotely decent video game-to-movie adaptation, Edge Of Tomorrow provides the perfect substitute. It may not have spawned directly from any console-based IP, but it is thoroughly steeped in gaming culture and logic — mainly via Sakurazaka himself, who is also a programmer. Lay the film’s plot over a game-design template and you’ll find a pleasingly neat match. When Cage (Cruise) awakens into the first day of his enforced demotion (also the second-to-last of his life), he is effectively starting from a save point. When, eventually, a close encounter on that bloody beach with a tentacle-flailing, blast-furnace mouthed “alpha” — the end-of-level boss — causes his health bar to retract to zero, we snap back to that save point, and he must ‘play’ the two days again. With each replay, he must learn how to survive to reach the next ‘level’ (to ultimately meet the end-of-game boss), although, paradoxically, just as we learn from our mistakes in life, he must learn from his deaths. (If you’ve ever sunk days of playtime into a Dark Souls game, you’re guaranteed to sympathise.)

Part of this is through his power of recollection, plus development of muscle-memory: step left to avoid explosion here, shoot right to eliminate incoming mimic there — every repeated battle is pre-programmed, so he just has to learn the patterns. Then part of it is through a more straightforward regime of personal improvement — or ‘levelling up’ — which comes via Cage ‘unlocking new content’. Having mastered the timing of a roll between a truck’s wheels in one amusing and novel sequence, he is rewarded with access to a trainer (Emily Blunt as seasoned soldier Rita Vrataski) who not only provides him with the necessary information to progress to new ‘levels’, but also enables him to ‘spend’ his ‘experience points’ in her automated dojo.

If this all sounds as mechanical as the exo-suits Cage and his comrades wear, don’t be put off. McQuarrie and the Butterworths have crafted a rich and drily witty script that really takes the edges off the concept. Seemingly throwaway lines accrue layers of meaning as Cage relives, and relives, these two days. “Battle is a true redeemer,” barks Paxton’s sarge at his men; “tomorrow morning you will be baptised. Born again.” A little later, just before being dropped into the hotzone, a fellow grunt yells at Cage, the raw recruit, “I think there’s something wrong with your suit... Yeah, there’s a dead man in it!” So true.

The writers have fun with the whole death-to-progress concept, too. Once Blunt’s combat-hardened Rita joins Cage in his quest, it becomes her job to ‘press quit’ when things go wrong — by shooting Cage through the head. Also, after the plot’s loopy logic is firmly established (which, like any time-travel movie, raises more questions than it provides answers), they employ it to maintain tension: how much does Cage know? Has he been through this scenario before? It’s deliberately never clear just how many lives he’s already gone through to get to any given scene. It is a shame that the deaths themselves aren’t allowed to have more impact. In a previous era, this would have been a 15-to-18-certificate movie that would not have shied away from presenting Cage’s many and varied demises, gore and all. But the commercial pressure to audience-broaden has required Liman to cut away as much as possible, and a visual sense of trauma is lost.

Still, Cruise sells it brilliantly. Indeed, this is his strongest performance in some time and he revels in the character’s development. He starts out as a smug, smirking, weaselly coward, not above trying to blackmail an implacable general (Brendan Gleeson); Cage is so ineffectual, he can’t even switch off the safety on his hand-cannons. During his first drop he stumbles lamely about, watching his comrades die in the dirt, doing little useful to help them. But battle is a true redeemer, of course. So gradually, gradually, the weasel becomes a lion. Although not without a self-serving detour or two along the way.

Blunt, too, is on strong form, exhibiting a steely poise that makes her comfortably believable as a war-propaganda poster-girl known simultaneously as The Angel Of Verdun and Full Metal Bitch. She is less a romantic interest for Cruise (who seems to be going through an English actress co-star phase) than she is his mentor, and his foil. Doug Liman has always been an astute, experimental chemist, and while this isn’t quite the Brad-and-Angie lab explosion of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, it’s at least as strong a pairing as Matt Damon and Franka Potente in The Bourne Identity (which, incidentally, is another movie this comes to echo during one later episode particularly).

After the forgettable Jumper and Fair Game, it’s good to see Liman back on pyrotechnic form, orchestrating some inventive combat spectacle. This could well be his biggest hit yet — and Cruise’s for a good while, too. A rebirth, of a sort, for both of them. If nothing else, it’ll stand out as one of summer 2014’s most entertaining surprises.


Verdict
A playful and frantic science-fiction twister which mimics the best (Aliens, The Matrix, Groundhog Day) while offering something fresh and — most importantly — thrilling.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Edge Of Tomorrow
Empire Star Rating

RE: Edge Of Tomorrow

Really liked this. Pleasantly surprised. ... More

Posted by spamandham at 22:23, 19 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Brilliant.

One of the most enjoyable films of the summer. Glad I skipped all the trailers for this. 9/10. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 11:40, 19 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Brilliant.

b]ORIGINAL: R Wollowing his 2002 thriller The Bourne Identity – which many saw as just laying down the groundwork for the superior sequels that were helmed by Paul Greengrass – Swingers director Doug Liman has dropped the ball recently from Mr and Mrs Smith to Jumper...i]Jumperood-if-you-squint movie that's easily the weakest entry in Liman's oeuvre. I haven't yet seen men't comment on that. Personally, I thought rs. Smithfun and funny rom-com / action genre hybrid that delivered on its p... More

Posted by max314 at 00:52, 17 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Finally saw it last night. This is how action cinema ought to be done. Granted, the film isn't about much more than promoting war as a character building exercise – but, with respect to craft, the film's peaks are reminiscent of John McTiernan in his prime. And Tomorrowt do much else other than peak. ★★★ ... More

Posted by max314 at 00:39, 17 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE:

L: TheGodfather Watched in cinema on thursday: tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1631867/?ref_=nv_sr_1]Edge of TomorrowIn the media this is rightfully described as a mix of Starship Troopers and Groundhog Day. Liman makes, partially thanks to the excellent performance of Cruise, it a well balanced mix of humor, drama and action. Although the action is the front runner most of the time, the balance between drama and humor is excellent. The pace is high and it all looks excellent.The sh... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pandora at 12:49, 16 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Ho-hum

L: sanchia L: neilarmour The most minor gripe, but worth mentioning, was the name 'Rita Vrataski'. Why couldn't they have given an English character a more English sounding name. William Cage is American, yet Rita Vrataski is English? doesn't really work for me. n the Japanese Manga she was American. n the Japanese manga the main character was Japanese and called Keiji Kiriya, yet they changed that. So why did they leave Vrataski? As I said it's not a major gri... More

Posted by neilarmour at 13:30, 09 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Ho-hum

L: neilarmour The most minor gripe, but worth mentioning, was the name 'Rita Vrataski'. Why couldn't they have given an English character a more English sounding name. William Cage is American, yet Rita Vrataski is English? doesn't really work for me. n the Japanese Manga she was American. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 11:06, 08 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Best blockbuster of the year

Thought this was decent fun but VERY derivative of other better sci fi movies ( Groundhog Day being the obvious inspiration ).Cruise is as good as ever but for a war film its rather lacking in threat and scares and the final half hour just conists of Cruise and Blunt shooting at blue cgi jello. 3 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 11:58, 07 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Ho-hum

THIS PROBABLY CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT THE ENDING SO DON'T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT. I went to see this last night and enjoyed it more than I expected... although it did fall down in several places that I have to say I hoped wouldn't happen but kind of expected. First, the script. It was full of formulaic, Hollywood nonsense that made me literally cringe in my seat. Having not been in the American military I can't really comment on whether the banter between the marines was real... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by neilarmour at 09:47, 05 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Bourne Identity?

What a thoroughly remarkable surprise. Action packed, visceral, dark, funny, interesting, all the things a good slice of sci-fi action should be. It's vastly more entertaining that just about every other blockbuster to hit the screen this year, yet sadly I feel it's going to slip under the radar for many. 4/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 10:04, 04 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Groundhog Fray.

TOMORROW e 2002’s The Bourne Identity, Doug Liman has established himself as a fairly competent action director, however poor scripts and production problems have often mired the quality of his blockbuster films. The aforementioned Bourne film was wrought with production issues, though ultimately salvaged by extensive reshoots, while Mr and Mrs Smith crumbled under the weight of its own star-power. And though Jumper featured some promising but pulpy sci-fi ideas, it unfortunately took them n... More

Posted by Gazz at 14:40, 03 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Groundhog Fray.

L: Dr Lenera t so distant future, Earth has been invaded by an alien race called the Mimics. Humans have looked past each other’s racial, religious and socio-economic differences by fighting together against their common enemy, but it seems that no army in the world or its arsenal of weapons can match the lightning speed or ruthlessness of the Mimic forces. Lt. Col. Bill Cage has been spared from combat during most of his career but, after his sudden drop in rank, he is forced... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 10:37, 02 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Groundhog Fray.

So I saw this yesterday in Imax 3D and it's honestly one of the best movies of the year so far and the most refreshing science fiction in some time. One thing the trailers don't convey that well is the films terrific sense of humour. There is a lot of very dark humour in this and all of it works, every single bit. I laughed out loud a lot of times during the course of the film. Cruise is fantastic in a role that starts off very different to his usual characters and he is extremely cowardly at t... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 08:53, 02 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Groundhog Fray.

t so distant future, Earth has been invaded by an alien race called the Mimics. Humans have looked past each other’s racial, religious and socio-economic differences by fighting together against their common enemy, but it seems that no army in the world or its arsenal of weapons can match the lightning speed or ruthlessness of the Mimic forces. Lt. Col. Bill Cage has been spared from combat during most of his career but, after his sudden drop in rank, he is forced to embark on suicide mis... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 18:23, 01 June 2014 | Report This Post


Groundhog Fray.

Shifting the focus from the in-game narrative itself to the experience of the player, the film will resonate with anyone who's ever played a first person shooter to completion, and is a better game-to-movie adaptation than most branded tie-in efforts. The film's strength lies in the sheer joy it takes in 'resetting', and the way it deftly skips through the buildup for each new/same day. Every bit as awesome as it is ridiculous, Edge Of Tomorrow has to be seen - and relived - to be believed... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 16:49, 01 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Edge Of Tomorrow

Following his 2002 thriller The Bourne Identity – which many saw as just laying down the groundwork for the superior sequels that were helmed by Paul Greengrass – Swingers director Doug Liman has dropped the ball recently from Mr and Mrs Smith to Jumper, although his last film Fair Game was a step-up for him. For his latest feature, Liman works with Tom Cruise whose last appearance was in last year’s Oblivion which now feels inferior to Edge of Tomorrow. In the near future as an alien race... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 23:34, 30 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: This is already out here for some reason. (Amsterdam)

Oblivion was more recent than Jack Reacher. Really looking forward to this. ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 08:45, 27 May 2014 | Report This Post


RE: A lot of information...

There's not really anything in the review you wouldn't know from the trailers, though... Which do literally include a shot of the 're-set' mentioned, so it's not like it's not out there already. ... More

Posted by jencat at 17:30, 23 May 2014 | Report This Post



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