Edge of Tomorrow marks a rare appearance of Tom Cruise in a science fiction movie. For much of Tom Cruise’s movie career, he has avoided science fiction films, however, that trend seems to be reversing. He did Legend in 1983, but then there was a gap of some 18 years until he did Vanilla Sky that possessed some fantasy/sci-fi elements…besides being batshit crazy of a film. In 2002, he would team up with Steven Spielberg for Minority Report, one of the great sci-fi movies of the new century. After that success, he would return to the genre three more times, in 2005’s War of the Worlds and 2013’s Oblivion and now, with military sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow. The film’s other star is the very beautiful Emily Blunt, who I first saw in The Young Victoria in 2009. This film is based on the 2004 Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and for a time the film carried the same name as the book. Edge of Tomorrow was directed by Doug Liman, who direct Mr and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity and had a budget of $178 million. I saw this film in Dallas at Cinemark 17 in 3D at the midnight showing. Just before I went to see this film, I re-watched 2011's Battle: Los Angeles, to compare the two, since they had a similar alien invasion setup. I will be noting comparison throughout this review.
THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW!
Throughout this film, elements are borrowed and channeled from World War II, and great World War II films, in both style and setup. From the locations, the invasion of France, the paint schemes on the quad-rotor dropships, to the uniforms, Edge of Tomorrow using this setup and runs with it, making for the initial battle scene on the beach something that hasn't been seen in a sci-fi war movie. I give director Doug Liman much praise here, Edge of Tomorrow is visually an impressive sci-fi film with most nice pacing.
I was also concerned about the film looping the same day over and over. Once I saw the film, my fears were ungrounded, Doug Liman makes each repeat fresh and takes a different angle on each loop. This also creates an interesting chemistry between Cage and Rite that is one of the best overall elements of this bittersweet film. It is not a love story, and I respected them for NOT making that mistake. Then there is the combat exoskeleton suits nicknamed "Jackets". While not the same as the book, these really work on-screen, and watching mass legions of warfigthers in exoskeleton powered armor was something I've been waiting for decades to see. Just jawdropping. These Jackets are well-designed, and do not overwhelm the film with the "look how cool this future shit is" factor. Seriously, these Jackets were very well done.Overall, Edge of Tomorrow success in bring the basic concept of the original Japanese novel, with impressive visuals and interesting plot that brings out the best in the actors and crew. Lastly, I am, also, glad that Tom Cruise's character is not named Jack. Seriously, dude, stop making movies with characters named "Jack". Thank you.
The very ending of the film, like the last five minutes, is completely unneeded and tacked-on. While I cannot spoil the film, just note that when you think the movie is going to end, it does not, and the overall experience suffers from this. Part of the reason for the film's bittersweet tone is the looping and the finality of the end battle to destroy the time loop is downplayed by this happy ending of sorts. I could see how they could have ended this film more effectively, and allowed the integrity of the rest of film to be retained, and that wasn't the way they shot it.
How Does the Film Compare to the Novel?
Often when a book is translated into film, things are added and deleted, and Edge of Tomorrow is no expectation. Location is one of the first changes, along the Tom Cruise’s character. In the original text, the events are set in Japan, and a massive military operation is being mounted to protect the Japanese high-tech industry that is critical for the war effort. In the film, it is the United Kingdom, and the UDF are attempting to squeeze the aliens on a two front war. The main character of the book is a Japanese Jacket newbie pilot by the name of Keiji Kiriya, in the film, Tom Cruise’s character is an white American name Major William Cage (I wonder if he is related to Johnny Cage?) who is an advertising man by training, and not a combat officer.
Much of the life on the base that Keiji experiences are not replicated in the film, along with the characters. The character of Rita is altered from an American Special Forces Jacket operator, to a British Special Forces soldier. Speaking of the powered armor…in the book, the infantry uses powered armor called “Jackets”, and the manga reflects the full armor approach that is very Japanese in design, the film is more exoskeleton, more Elysium and Iron Man. The starting point for the alien Mimic is said in the film is Germany, and at the opening of the film, Earth is planning a counterstrike from the English coast. As a consequence of altering the main character and the setting, the difference between the book and movie increases greatly, making the film and book barely related...hell, even the reason why Cage and Rita are loopers is different along with the conclusion. Oddly, they are better in the film than the book.
I think that overall story, the tone, the acting, the chaotic battle scenes, and the very cool Jacket APS make Edge of Tomorrow a film worth seeing, especially in 3D, which was done quite well done. I always believe that we fans of military science fiction should see Edge of Tomorrow to let Hollywood know that we moviegoers want more military science fiction films. And maybe, just maybe, this will inspirit Ridley Scott to get off of his ass, and make our Forever War movie! In the end, I still think that Battle: Los Angeles is are more effective military science fiction alien invasion flick than Edge of Tomorrow. I will be adding Edge of Tomorrow to my DVD collection.
Next Time on FWS...
Here is Jeremy Jahns Review: