16:37 - 27th November 2014, by David West

Edge Of Tomorrow

Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) has spent his military career working in public relations, preferring being in front of TV cameras to the frontline. With humanity fighting a losing war against a race of extremely hostile aliens called Mimics, Cage is horrified when the no-nonsense General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders him into the thick of things – to cover what the military hopes will be a successful offensive against the invaders. Dropped into the midst of a slaughter, Cage meets a rapid demise at the hands of a Mimic – only to wake up again the day before the battle, back on the base. He is, thus, forced to relive the same day over and over again, inevitably meeting a violent end on the battlefield. Cage searches for a way out of his predicament but the only person who believes his story of time repeating itself is battle-hardened soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt).

The past summer has seen Hollywood produce two big tent-pole movies based on Japanese properties. First there was Godzilla’s second American outing, and then there was Doug Liman’s Edge Of Tomorrow. This sci-fi thriller was based on the novelette All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which in turn was adapted into a manga by Takeshi Obata of Death Note and Bakuman fame. Liman and his writing team have made some changes to the tale, but the heart of the story has survived intact and in many ways, dare we say it, the movie is actually an improvement on the source material. Before you pick up your pitchforks and flaming torches and storm the NEO offices, let us explain.

In the original, the protagonist was a young recruit, Keiji Kiriya, who is now the older, if not wiser, William Cage. The script and Cruise’s performance make Cage a much more engaging personality than Kiriya. He undergoes a gradual, and often painful, transformation from a self-serving, devious jerk into a hero, with an emotionally engaging story arc far better developed than anything in the novel. Blunt’s character Rita is switched from an American to a Brit, a fairly minor detail in the grand scheme of things, and the battleaxe she wields in the original has been swapped for a sword forged from a helicopter blade, which looks pretty cool.

The setting has moved from Okinawa to London and Paris, but the Mimics fit the description in the book, even if they look a bit like the squids from The Matrix. Given the brevity of Sakurazaka’s novelette it is not surprisingly that the film’s plot goes in some new directions and adds its own supporting cast, but there is nothing here that does not feel true to the spirit of the story. Moreover, Blunt and Cruise are both excellent, and Rita’s often brutal treatment of Cage produces some refreshingly edgy, dark humour. Action scenes are top-notch, the design work is excellent, and the special effects are as slick as you’d expect from a big budget production.

Hollywood’s record with adaptations of Japanese material is a procession of turkeys like 1998’s Godzilla, Dragonball Evolution, and the Keanu Reeves’ mangling of 47 Ronin, but Edge Of Tomorrow defies all the odds by getting it all very right.
SCORE: 5/5
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