Edge of Tomorrow

Read what Howard makes of this Sci-fi movie by Doug Linman, which was shot and filmed in local areas you will definitely recognise. Originally released a Edge of Tomorrow, this Tom Cruise has been re-marketed as Live. Die. Repeat. for the home viewing market.

Cert (UK): 12A

Runtime: 146 mins

Director: Doug Linman

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

Rating  ***

This is the film that caused part of Watford to think something awful was happening, with explosions and plumes of black smoke drifting across Leavesden and North Watford a couple of years ago. Alongside that there were occasional sightings of Tom Cruise himself at various local restaurants, so it feels as if the area has a stake in this movie. So is this sci-fi blockbuster one of Watford’s finer moments?

The premise of the film is that William Cage (Tom Cruise) finds himself in a video game version of his life where he lives, dies and lives again countless times in a battle to save humanity from an alien invasion, each life enabling him to work out a little more how to defeat an unrecognisable life form.

His first death occurs very early on during a battle on a beach in Northern France (Warners Bros. Studios Leavesden), where in the near future soldiers are suited in massive high tech metal suits. The battle on the beach has undertones of the Second World War D-Day Landings, but in this instance it’s pretty clear that the humans are no match for an advanced tentacled alien race which is all part of a single organism.

Cage is very much a PR man in the army, encouraging people to recruit and has no appetite for fighting at all, which is a role we would not associate Cruise with at all. He finds himself press ganged into action by his General (Brendan Gleeson) and is quite clearly totally out of his depth as he hits the beaches unable to fire his weaponry as he cannot operate the trigger. Unless one goes to see this film without knowing very little about it, there is no surprise that the totally incompetent Cage meets his death as he confronts a more specialised tentacled alien, which for some reason that is never quite clear, passes onto him the power of self-resurrection. Just as Cage dies he suddenly awakes to find himself back at the start of the same day with everything being exactly as it was before although he knows what the outcome will be.

In this respect the film is very much like the classic Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, where the protagonist has many opportunities to put right all the things that go wrong or just do not work out. In this movie, however, it’s all about trying to avoid being killed and how to make progress through the death trap that is the initial beach landing to confront the heart of the alien. Through this process the PR man becomes hardened fighting machine a role far more familiar to Tom Cruise advocates.

Alongside Cruise is Emily Blunt playing Rita Vrataski, who has had a similar fate to that of Cage, but who subsequently had the re-incarnation effect removed by a blood transfusion whilst in battle. Vrataski has become a national icon and is referred to as the Angel Of Verdun for her heroics in killing aliens, no doubt enhanced but her ability of knowing what comes next. Vrataski is a women of few words and clipped sentences, “Who are you” greets Cage on a number of occasions. As expected the relationship between the two develops in adversity, but to cast Blunt in the role of female warrior capable of waging war against an alien race seemed misplaced to me and a fundamental flaw in the film.

Indeed Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow does not bear much close scrutiny, if one starts to ask why have the aliens invaded Europe, what are they hoping to gain, if they are constantly time shifting which day is it we are actually living in, things start to fall apart pretty quickly. Whilst Oblivion may not have been universally acclaimed, in that future vision that Cruise lived in we had a beautiful world inhabited by nothing very much. In this world we seem to have a future where nothing much has changed, people seem unpleasant and the only sector which has seen any investment is the technology of armed conflict.

What does keep this movie going to its climax is the resurrection element which does have its own developments, given we know as much as Cage does when he first awakes and during the film it becomes clear we have missed possibly hundreds of resurrections as he tells Vrataski at one point “you always die here” which is a revelation to all concerned. It also has its sense of black comedy when Vrataski ends his life when he fails at training routines and there is always the overriding sense that they are trying to solve a very complicated puzzle.

It is though, this last point that perhaps is Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow’s greatest failing, the pairs unflinching determination to plot their way through the puzzle in a never ending tale of conflict and killing, ultimately seems to count for very little as they head towards a climax that they have not seen or rehearsed before, which is another unexplainable hole in the plot.

Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow is full of action and is enjoyable enough at a superficial level, but Emily Blunt's character and the plot deficiencies unfortunately leave this film short and not one of Watford’s better moments.  Having said that someone involved in the production must have been listening to Watford’s finest, as the film closes with John Newman’s, Love Me Again, a classic Vibe track from last year.

Written by Howard Groves 

(Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow is available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray).