Fresh, funny and packed with thrills, The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman’s new time-twisting sci-fi epic is a rare thing: an action blockbuster that doesn’t feel like bored rehashing of films that have gone before.
Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is a smarmy government official and the appealingly handsome face of Earth’s resistance effort against a deadly alien species known as Mimics. When he is called to the front line against his will, Cage finds himself ill-equipped to take part in the battle and is quickly dispatched by one of the creatures – in the process, absorbing a great deal of its blood.
For Convenient Plot Reasons, this allows Cage to unwittingly hack the Mimics’ ability to “reset the day”, meaning every time he dies he wakes up at the same point, twenty-four hours earlier. Joining forces with legendary Mimic-slayer Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage lives the day over and over again in an attempt to work out how to defeat the Mimics, and in the process learns how to become a true hero.
It’s a clever – if slightly holey – concept that exploits its necessary repetitions to full effect. Perhaps the cleverest trick here is the subtle switch in perspective from Cage to Vrataski around halfway through, at which point we stop witnessing the repetitions and start guessing just how many times he has lived through each particular moment.
There are also lots of laughs, particularly in the opening half hour where Cage attempts fruitlessly to communicate his peculiar plight; and the caricatured, over-the-top supporting cast is reminiscent of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.
Indeed, influences crop up all over the place. The soldiers’ mechanical suits have more than a touch of James Cameron about them, while we get shades of another Tom Cruise sci-fi spectacular, Minority Report, in a scene where Cage carefully navigates Rita through a ministerial hallway, knowing at each point where to avoid danger.
On a larger scale, though, the tone and execution of Edge of Tomorrow feel genuinely original. The Mimics are a suitably scary and unique creation – at times remsembling a chaotic spider/werewolf crossbreed – and, the location of the final action setpiece marks a suitably flamboyant and daring conclusion to the film.
Cruise is on winning form here and though Blunt’s immaculate beauty is a little incongruous with her war vet character, she’s otherwise a terrifically convincing action lead. Together, the two manage to evade cringey action-romance clichés, and settle into a nicely charged chemistry that holds our interest.
The film also looks brilliant, and – CultBox being lucky enough to view it on Empire Leicester Square’s brand new IMAX screen – is certainly worth seeing on as big a screen as possible.
Though Edge of Tomorrow has its flaws – we’d like to imagine the last five minutes didn’t happen, to be quite honest – it’s a film that, like its leading man in this particular role, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Rambunctious, good-natured fun with a few twists in its tale? Yeah, we could do worse than that.
Released in UK cinemas on Friday 30 May 2014.
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