I have no idea why, but I often see this movie called (or at least advertised with the phrase) Live, Die, Repeat, which is a terrible and basic name for what is actually a far more interesting movie that first meets the eye. I personally think Tom Cruise is a fantastic actor (think Born on the Fourth of July rather than Mission Impossible) but when he is starring in a well-funded action movie, it’s normally a signal that it will be formulaic, safe and generally not my cup of tea.
With Edge of Tomorrow that is simply not so. It is absolutely my cup of tea. It’s an early spoiler – the dumb alternative title of the movie gives it away anyway – but an arrogant coward in the US (now global) military soon finds himself on the frontlines of a horrifyingly bloody battle with alien invaders; an enemy that mankind has been valiantly but unsuccessfully trying to repel for some time now. Totally unprepared for warfare, he is violently killed within a few minutes.
But guess what? He re-awakens to a moment earlier that day, Groundhog Day style. Try as he may, it appears there is nothing he can do to avoid his fate and is thrown over and over into the death trap, regenerating each time to the earlier moment as if nothing had happened.
It’s a fantastic motif to explore how you would use the knowledge gained on each unsuccessful day to develop the skills and wherewithal to become a world-class fighter in the war. It’s a shame there wasn’t an accompanying videogame because the concept is quality. I won’t spoil any more of the plot, which meanders a little, but generally stays on track as punchy and intriguing throughout – especially when Emily Blunt’s character becomes more central to the film’s events.
Edge of Tomorrow may be an action blockbuster, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t packed with novel ideas and food for thought. It’s not as cerebral as other time-travel oriented sci fis like Memento or Primer might be, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes the Hollywood treatment lets ideas come to life in more compelling ways than the arthouse auteur filmmakers can compete with.