Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise and is basically Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day – from Doug Liman, the director of The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It’s a surprisingly adept sci-fi action film, and one that manages to balance all of its elements just right.
Cruise is Major William Cage, a spokesman who’s never seen combat, but who becomes trapped in a time loop that resets every time he dies. This forces him to relive the same hopeless beachside battle against the alien Mimics again and again – until he can either survive the slaughter or discover some way to defeat the hive-mind, the Omega, once and for all.
To this end, Cage befriends cold-hearted Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) day after day in order to be trained into a hardened soldier to have any chance at victory against the Mimics (which, by the way, are examples of expert and original creature design – I loved their jerky and chaotic movement). Rita is the only person who believes Cage because she was also stuck in a time loop at Verdun when she too managed to hijack the ability of the Mimics to reset time and learn from their mistakes.
Rita understands the importance of time because she knows that the power doesn’t last forever and with every new reset the Mimics come closer to zeroing in on Cage. She therefore has no qualms with putting Cage through his paces, and isn’t averse to also putting a bullet in his head to start a new cycle if she thinks that the current one is a bust.
This leads to several hilarious moments where Cage is trying to convince Rita that he’s fine to continue, even though he’s paralysed or suffered some other grave injury. Cage’s repeated run-ins with overzealous Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton) also add colour to the proceedings. In typical Groundhog Day fashion, Cage slowly comes to learn everything that Farell is going to say and do before he even does it.
It’s ultimately a breezy and well-paced affair, with solid action that’s easy to follow – there’s no shaky cam here! The only real issue, and it’s a significant one, is found in the film’s final minutes which are a giant cop-out for the sole purpose of enabling the story to have a typical Hollywood ending. It’s a poorly explained turn and betrays the rest of what’s otherwise a terrific sci-fi movie from a skilled director that stars the ever-reliable Tom Cruise.