Doug Liman knows a thing or two about directing an action flick. Having served behind the camera for The Bourne Identity (the best of the series), Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Jumper, he has that under his belt (he’s up for the Tom Clancy-inspired Splinter Cell next). But he also directed the verbally swervy, sarcastic Swingers, reminding us that he can do funny. Those trademarks lend themselves to the adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill, that finds soldiers fighting off aliens in Robotech/Pacific Rim-like suits, visually appealing to the Halo crowd. But this is a film that’s aware of its predecessors, willing to swing for the fences, and poke fun, all at the same time.
Edge of Tomorrow is Oblivion-meets-Groundhog Day. If you like either of those premises, then you’re good. (Unfortunately, several folks told me they weren’t interested just because of Tom Cruise, but for an actor who is that annoying in real life, his films are right up my alley!)
Communications officer Major William Cage (Cruise) tries to avoid active duty on the front line of the alien-human conflict, and ends up sent to serve under Bill Paxton’s Master Sergeant Bartolome. In Cage’s first excursion to beaches of France (hello, D-Day), Cage’s crew is wiped out, but he kills one of the “mimics” before he dies, and its blood enters his bloodstream. He begins to relive each day, finally hooking up with another ‘jumper,’ Emily Blunt’s Rita, who is the only other person to believe his story. She realizes they can use his ‘gift’ to find the mimics’ source of power, destroy it, and end the war.
Things get interesting as Cage progresses through each day, making it a little farther, trying different ways to discover ways around the mimics, like a kid reading a Choose Your Own Adventure. There’s plenty of thought about fate put into this one (from Bartolome’s monologue to the actual lives of Rita and Cage). But there’s also a question about what we would die for, fight for, suffer for, and live for. Cage is the only one who can see the truth of the future, making him prophetic, but his compulsion to change the future, to save the lives of those around him, makes him a Christ-figure in the process. He doesn’t just prophesy about the future of destruction, but he tries to avert it.
The visuals are stunning, like Saving Private Ryan with aliens, and Cruise and Blunt work well together in a story that doesn’t stress the romance but works their chemistry. The round-and-round days gets a little old by the end, but the overall vibe is both fun and thought-provoking (it’s certainly better than Godzilla!) Even if Cruise isn’t your cup ‘o tea, you should give this sci-fi mind bender a chance.