Edge of Tomorrow

Film Title: Edge of Tomorrow

Director: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson

Genre: Sci-Fi

Running Time: 113 min

Fri, May 30, 2014, 00:00

   

Even the staunchest joystick junkie might admit that the videogame has not had an entirely happy influence on contemporary cinema. Too many movie characters now seem all pixel and no heart. The latest film from Doug Liman (his best since The Bourne Identity) confirms that film can, however, exploit a few of its younger relative’s key moves.

Based on a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow hangs around a cunning, endlessly flexible premise: Tom Cruise plays a cowardly solider who, every time he dies, wakes up at the start of the same day. The suggestions of Groundhog Day are unavoidable (and surely intended). But what one thinks of most is the frustration that accompanies attempts to play through a tricky level of a console game.

Having attacked the Earth and occupied all of western and central Europe, spidery aliens find themselves in much the same situation as the Germans at the start of 1944. Fighting continues on the eastern front while an invasion force gathers hopefully across the English Channel. Unlike the Nazi, the bug-eyed tentacle-things look to be invincible.

For reasons too confusing to disentangle, Major William Cage (Cruise), a PR officer busted to private by angry (hooray!) General Brendan Gleeson, ends up with the powers outlined above. Every time he dies on the invasion beach, the world gets reset as it was that morning.

With the help of super soldier Rita Vrataski (a spirited Emily Blunt), Cage sets out to destroy the source of the aliens’ power. But it is hard. He keeps dying on the beach. Then he decides to take another route. Every time he makes it to a new area, lack of preparation gets him killed.

“What do we do now?” Rita asks at one stage. “I don’t know. I’ve never got this far,” he says. The experienced gamer will sympathise with his plight.

Cruise has fun with an uncharacteristic part, a chicken who eventually shakes off his yellow streak, and the relationship with Rita – though characterised by the usual, ludicrous age gap in favour of the man – eventually develops a degree of depth and an ounce of poignancy. What a delight it is to discover an early-summer action picture whose plot is something more than a machine to generate eventual digital mayhem.

Now, can somebody explain the end to me?