“Edge of Tomorrow” Movie Review

     As a veteran director of a wide variety of films, Doug Liman brings an obvious sense of expertise and polish to “Edge of Tomorrow”, an exceptionally original science fiction story based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel “All You Need Is Kill” and adapted by screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”), Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth (“Fair Game”).  Liman’s previous works are an impressive array of everything from notable independent hits like “Swingers” and “Go”, as well as Summer Blockbusters like “The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”.  When viewing “Edge of Tomorrow”, one realizes Liman has reached an extremely high level of filmmaking, telling a story which requires a helmer with the upmost attention to the finest details, all the while maintaining a feverish pace and perhaps one of the best edits I’ve seen in a film in quite sometime.  The sheer craftsmanship is undeniable and the cast, which features Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in the lead roles, is up to the task as every actor is given their respective moments to shine.

     One of the best attributes of “Edge of Tomorrow” is that it succeeds where others consistently fail.  Time travel story lines are a hard sell to both mainstream and critical audiences, as they typically either require too much thought or they fall flat and make little sense.  There’s a point late in the first act in which Major Cage (Tom Cruise) first confronts Rita (Emily Blunt) as a possible source as to what is happening to him.  When Rita explains and later brings Cage to a scientist who can explain in greater detail, the audience just buys it.  It’s that well thought out and quite plausible.  This turns out to be key since that buy in is crucial for the second and third acts of the story.  Liman and his screenwriters never miss a beat, as the story confidently moves forward with no need for further explanation or clarification.

     In the future, the world has been invaded by an alien army the remaining human population refers to as “Mimics”.  This alien race proves to be quite an adversary, nearly unbeatable even when matched against the very best weapons and technology humans have to fight with.  On the eve of an important battle, Cage is labeled a deserter and dropped into combat with a rag tag military squad made up of a number of interesting personalities.  Led by Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton), the squad is part of a massive beach attack that is viewed by most as a suicide mission.  Liman’s staging of this initial battle is tour de force filmmaking near the level of the opening sequence in “Saving Private Ryan”.  Moving and spinning with blinding speed and ferocity, the Mimics seem to appear out of nowhere and instantly overmatch the slow and bulky armor suits worn by the military.

     Cage is killed within minutes of landing, but then something happens.  He awakens in the same place he started a day earlier where he meets Sergeant Farell for the first time and is introduced reluctantly to his squad.  Cage remembers everything that happened, but everyone else is at the same point they were at the time with everything happening at the same moment it did when he lived it before.  Cage continues to relive the deadly beach invasion and simply wakes up after being killed on the battlefield in the same spot the day before where he started over and over again.  The script, as well as Cruise’s signature delivery, really excels in these scenes as they depict someone who knows everything that will be said and done before the people talking do.  Liman effectively sets up quite a bit of humor throughout these scenes, as Cage has a bit of fun with some of the other characters.

     After numerous attempts to figure out what is going on, he reveals to Rita on the battle field that he has been their before.  So has she, as it turns out and she tells Cage to come find her when he wakes up.  This is what sends the story into motion as Cage and Rita essentially move one step closer each time Cage dies on the battlefield, learning enough to get him further toward a solution for defeating the alien enemy.  Though the film has a equal parts “Aliens” and “Starship Troopers” feel with a healthy dose of “Groundhog Day” for good measure, Liman and his screenwriters have created a story that clearly stands on it’s own and is easily the most original science fiction movie idea since “Inception.”  While the ending may pander a bit to the mainstream audience who would rather have the conclusion spoon fed instead of engaging in any real thought,  the overall result is one hell of a ride.