Truly smart sci-fi thrillers are quite rare and that is what makes the Tom Cruise-starring Edge of Tomorrow so special and, honestly, so surprising.
Given the fact that it is based on a wildly successful book that itself became a wildly successful graphic novel, called All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, that could be much of the reason.
The film -- with all its twists and turns -- is so well thought out. And given what the movie is about and its plot vehicle of a person reliving the same day over and over and over, a book’s blueprint is a great place to start for director Doug Liman and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth.
Cruise is Lt. Col. Cage, and in a time when aliens have landed in Central Europe and are trying to expand across the globe, he is basically the PR machine leader that is selling the war to rid the Earth of this scourge.
At first, those alien bastards are unbeatable. But it appears in the film’s first moments that a crack in the armor has been found and we are on the eve of a D-Day type invasion out of England to take back our planet once and for all.
Cage meets with General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), and the military leader wants the PR man to head into battle with a camera crew to keep spirits up on the homefront that we’re winning the war.
Cruise refuses saying he’s no soldier, and next thing you know, he awakes at a military-converted Heathrow Airport, he's been labeled a deserter and busted down to the rank of private. Oh, and he’s going into battle with Bill Paxton’s troops.
His only hope is that the suit he helped develop and sell (and as you’ve surely seen in the Edge of Tomorrow trailer) will allow him to be the soldier he and we know he is not.
He’s dead within minutes. Then he awakes at that same point in time at Heathrow Airport and everything is the same. Yup, he is being forced to relive the same day he dies over and over.
And in the hands of Cruise, at his best in years, it is equally terrifying, incredibly humorous and downright suspenseful.
Eventually he figures out he has to find Emily Blunt’s Rita (who had Cruise’s power, but lost it), and she can train him and hopefully together they can figure out a way out of this slaughter, turn the tide of the war and rid the world of those invaders.
Cruise and Blunt are electric. The way that Liman brings in a level of humanity through their working relationship is astounding. And this is all while the helmer is orchestrating a battle sequence that makes Steven Spielberg’s opening to Saving Private Ryan seem like a trip through Disneyland.
Liman gives his audience the utmost of credit in that he doesn’t make us revisit the same details of Cage’s day over and over. We jump right to the action, with a few variables, and as such, this film has a pace that is downright supersonic as it steamrolls towards the most unexpected of conclusions.
The concept is sublime. The execution is brilliant. And in the end, our Edge of Tomorrow review has to point out that this thriller could very well be the biggest surprise of the summer. It certainly shot right onto our list of 15 best alien invasion movies!