A Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

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Only minor spoilers

So I watched The Edge of Tomorrow, and it’s pretty good. Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), it is better than I expected it to be and it should have pulled in more at the box office than it did.

It’s based on a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka originally called All You Need Is Kill. I do like to read the novel and watch the movie usually because it is a good opportunity to learn about the differences in writing between the two mediums. There is an English translation of the original Japanese novel available, but reviews suggested that the translation could have been done better, so I haven’t read it.

The idea is pretty well summed up by the film’s tagline: Live Die Repeat, though this does sort of under-state the film a bit, so maybe it wasn’t the best marketing choice. But the core idea is simple and I don’t think it takes much effort to figure out what inspired Hiroshi Sakurazaka. No, it was not the classic Bill Murray film Groundhog Day. It was video games.

I’m certain that Hiroshi Sakurazaka was procrastinating one day, playing Halo on his X-box rather than writing, and he got to a hard bit where no matter what he did he just kept dying over and over again repeatedly. And then it stuck him (while his save was reloading): this would make a good premise for a story! He turned his X-box off and sat down to write.

The actors suit their roles well, the screenwriters took the trouble to make things more complicated toward the end at the right part and the story is told in a deliberate, thought-out manner. There are no major faults in the logic of the story to annoy the viewer as there often are in stories where time loops or time travel is central to the plot.

As Cruise repeats his loop day (reset each time he dies) he retains his memories from previous loops and so the story provides a realistic opportunity for the character to go on to become the hero, as he has infinite opportunities to train and learn how to do all those superhuman things without it being unbelievable.

I like movies that find a way to do this because it provides an opportunity for character development (one that is often not used as effectively as it might be). In this case the writers start out with a coward who tries to blackmail his way out of going anywhere near danger. Great, I thought, a writer who gets it!

This was a decent performance from Tom Cruise, who clearly put in a lot of effort in this one. I thought Emily Blunt was good too; you believed she had been hardened by her experience.

Some effort is made to create authenticity, with some British actors and a whole chunk of the film is set in London (where it was also filmed). The script is good, and the film’s well edited.

One thing that bugged me a little was the technological device that allowed our heroes to work out where the Omega was that they needed to take out. It’s a bit of a primitive plot device really, but in fairness films can be hard to tell without them because of the condensed format. I imagine that the novel puts more weight behind that idea to make it less like Dr Who pulling out his sonic screwdriver to save the day.

The aliens, as they often are in movies, are a little bit too Starship Troopers for my liking, but in fairness, the aliens are really not the focus of the film; the story is told around them. This was the only other major weakness but my guess is that the novel provides a back story and a bit more flesh in this area. In the movie, they get away without it.

7/10 stars.

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