- Edge of Tomorrow (2014) movie review: Tom Cruise, Hollywood’s last film star, single-handedly brings to vibrant life Doug Liman’s otherwise outlandish “alien invasion” sci-fier.
Edge of Tomorrow movie review: Tom Cruise exudes star charisma in Hollywood’s latest alien invasion flick
Originally published in 2004, Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s popular novel All You Need Is Kill has been turned into an even more popular manga in Japan and, translated into English, a graphic novel recently republished as Edge of Tomorrow.
The latter is a better title for a movie, particularly a summer blockbuster featuring the last movie star – the full depth and breadth of his star powers at work in every scene, as he is literally in every scene, transforming what would have been a serviceable military sci-fi adventure into an exceptionally entertaining one that reminds viewers of the purpose of a movie star: To make the audience care about characters and events they otherwise wouldn’t care about at all.
I don’t care about killer-alien invasion movies anymore. They bore me, except when the last movie star is leading the battle against the evil aliens hellbent on eating humanity.
Tom Cruise is the last movie star. And fortunately, he’s in Edge of Tomorrow, making it better despite itself.
D-Day meets Independence Day meets Groundhog Day
Directed by Doug Liman from an adaptation credited to Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise as Major William Cage, an American Public Information Officer leading the recruiting charge for the British military as they prepare to mount an all out D-Day meets Independence Day-style attack against invading alien hordes called Mimics.
Mimics are wildly erratic creatures that attack like the Tasmanian Devil from the old Warner Bros. cartoons, spinning and flailing from every direction. They have octopus-like tentacles and elongated faces with fangs like the monster from Ridley Scott’s original 1979 Alien. And besides, they apparently can control time.
Our hero, while dedicated to his specialty – which is really advertising – is not unusually heroic at all. He’s not a coward per se, but Cage knows he will have no chance on a battlefield against the enemy, not even in the newly developed MechWarrior battle suit he has been pitching as the next best chance at human salvation. And he’s right, as he’s killed about two minutes after landing in the middle of the battleground.
But then Cage wakes up from death, and that’s when D-Day meets Independence Day also meets Groundhog Day. And so Edge of Tomorrow begins. Again.
Doing the time loop
For reasons thoroughly explained – and completely ignored by this critic, as they are ridiculous – Cage finds himself in a classic time loop scenario, repeating the same day over and over again, each time advancing in his skills as a soldier and in his knowledge of what will happen next, bit by bit, until he gets killed again. And again. And again.
Finally, he meets Rita Vrataski, the internationally lauded hero alien killer played with great virility by Emily Blunt. Blunt is an actress who shed an early inclination for playing prissy 18th-century English girls who knit to play instead tough, sexy 21st-century English girls who kick ass.
Rita knows what’s happening to Cage because it once happened to her. Together they hatch a plan that they will have to die to execute, over and over again, until it works – or they stay dead. Whichever happens first.
Star wattage beats CGI
Edge of Tomorrow is full of action, spectacle, and even the drama of war, as most of the movie is staged like any number of large-scale World War II dramas, from The Longest Day and The Bridge at Remagen to Battle of Britain and Saving Private Ryan.
Doug Liman, a filmmaker who began his career helming smart little comedies like Swingers and Go before signing on to direct The Bourne Identity, handles the green-screened spectacle well enough. But make no mistake, it isn’t CGI aliens and battle sequences that will make Edge of Tomorrow a summer blockbuster.
Instead, people all over the world will go see Edge of Tomorrow because of the actor at its center. The last movie star: Tom Cruise.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Director: Doug Liman.
Screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth.
From Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 novel All You Need Is Kill.
Cast: Tom Cruise. Emily Blunt. Bill Paxton. Brendan Gleeson. Jonas Armstrong. Tony Way. Kick Gurry. Franz Drameh. Dragomir Mrsic. Charlotte Riley.
Cameos: Jeremy Piven. Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
“Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Movie Review” endnotes
Edge of Tomorrow movie box office via boxofficemojo.com.
Tom Cruise Edge of Tomorrow movie image: Warner Bros.
“Edge of Tomorrow Movie (2014) Review: Cruise Show” last updated in January 2022.