There’s a point in a game, if you’ve played it enough games, where you can stop thinking. For me it was Star Wars Trilogy Arcade. I was already moving the crosshairs to the corner where the TIEs were heading in. I’d even figured out a way to hit the triggers so fast that bosses couldn’t get a shot off. My enemies didn’t know it, but I’d adapted, and every time I played, more knowledge was layered on. It may have been their first time, but it was my hundredth.
Major William Cage is not a soldier, and he goes to great pains to explain it. But his first encounter with alien forces puts him this situation, reliving the day leading to a doomed assault. Unfortunately the only way to reset time is to die.
Over time, with the help of war hero Rita Vrataski, Cage becomes more and more proficient. Can he use his new ability to turn the tide of war? What effect will seeing the same people die repeatedly have on him?
Cruise infuses his character with perfect amounts of sliminess and self preservation without making him unlikeable. You can feel his weariness as he’s transformed into a battle hardened soldier. Director Liman doesn’t make this process tiresome, moving through similar scenes whilst trusting the audience to put it all together. Cage’s changing approach to the day and many failed attempts endear you to him. Liman and Cruise balance the humour of his seeming clairvoyance against the grim realisation that not everyone can be saved.
Emily Blunt’s sword wielding warrior is lean and mean, not something I would have thought she could pull off when I first saw her in A Devil Wears Prada. An impressive transformation and a credit to her ability.
Cruise and Blunt make for a very effective team, but it’s Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome who really shines. It cannot be a coincidence that he shares the same rank as Al Apone, his marine commander in Aliens. Watching him channel his inner Apone is an absolute joy, making every scene he’s in a delight.
We know very little about the invading mimics, which seems a wise choice. They look cool, but the story is about Cage and Vrataski and how their experiences change them more so than the actual enemy.
With Cage effectively repeating a level, powered exoskeletons, Vtaraski’s Final Fantasy-esque weaponry, and plenty of running and gunning you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a live action video game. But Cruise and Blunt, along with Liman’s steady hand behind the camera, elevate it above just being a cool idea. A vein of morbid humour runs through the story to match the emotion, rounding out the film well and elevating it above plenty of summer blockbuster fare.
Some of you will know that this is an updated review, rather than wholly new. I came back to after a recent rewatch. The first thing I did was change the title, since ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ was crap. Fortunately the studio now realises that, though they’ve still tip-toed around it by using ‘Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow’. I’m just going to ignore everything past the colon.
Live Die Repeat and Oblivion was a great time for Cruise, taking strong sci-fi ideas and making them accessible without losing emotion or dumbing them down. It took me too long to revisit this.