Film of the week reviewed: Edge of Tomorrow
- Credit: PA
In 2005, extra-terrestrials tangled with Tom Cruise in War Of The Worlds and came off second best.
The otherworldly invaders haven't learned their lesson because they are back as a hive-like race called the Mimics in Edge Of Tomorrow and, once again, the fate of mankind rests in the sweaty palms of a certain Hollywood superstar.
Only this time, Cruise is a military PR man, who has never seen a day of combat and will resort to anything, even blackmail, to avoid conflict.
The transformation of this image-obsessed weasel into a battle-ready soldier is one of the many pleasures of Doug Liman's entertaining, futuristic opus.
Based on the novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge Of Tomorrow shrouds its smart central conceit with adrenaline-pumping action sequences including a pivotal battle on blood-soaked beaches reminiscent of the Normandy landings.
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The carnage transplants to a European capital for an equally explosive finale with echoes of the concluding chapter of The Matrix as human survivors stage a suicidal last stand with depleted weaponry against a whirling armada of alien killing machines.
'We are not equipped for what's out there!' bleats Cruise.
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And the Oscar for understatement goes to...
Cruise plays Major William Cage, who arrives at the headquarters of the United Defense Force (UDF) in London close to Trafalgar Square.
The Mimics have overrun Europe and the UDF is preparing to storm the continent from multiple angles.
General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders Cage to the front line to capture this glorious moment on film for generations to come.
Cage refuses so he is press-ganged into active duty under Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton).
A subsequent skirmish on the beaches of France is a bloodbath and Cage perishes in the throes of annihilating an alien.
Exposure to the creature's luminous blue blood miraculously allows Cage to reset time and relive the ill-fated day, dying again and again as he attempts to identify a weakness in the Mimics' defences.
In the process, Cage forges an alliance with Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is known affectionately as Full Metal Bitch to the troops.
Scripted by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and siblings Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, Edge Of Tomorrow establishes its Groundhog Day-style premise and cleverly engineers ways to keep us enthralled as Cage repeats fatal mistakes.
Cruise initially plays against type and slowly teases out his character's likeable qualities amidst a miasma of eye-popping digital effects.
Blunt embraces Rita's ballsiness with gusto and she gleefully takes a gun to her leading man's noggin on countless occasions to ensure his demise resets the clock on mankind's hard-fought retaliation.
A belated frisson of sexual tension between the two leads is unnecessary but thankfully the film avoids the mires of mawkish sentimentality in the nick of time.
*** (3 Stars)