Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need is Kill is given the Hollywood treatment – and a much blander title – in Doug Liman’s hugely derivative but massively entertaining sci-fi action pic Edge of Tomorrow. The film steals from Aliens, The Matrix, Source Code, Starship Troopers and Saving Private Ryan, not to mention the obvious influence of Groundhog Day, but in spite of this it feels fresh, exciting and hugely enjoyable in its own right.
When Earth is attacked by a seemingly unstoppable alien force, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) – an officer who has never seen combat – winds up in the midst of a gargantuan battle through an unfortunate twist of fate. He is killed almost at once, but inexplicably wakes up again the previous day, forced to relive the same battle again and again, whilst becoming an increasingly skilled soldier in the process. Eventually his path crosses that of Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who might just hold the key to the time-looping mystery.
There’s nothing too deep to ponder here, and like all time travel stories its best not to think about it too hard. However this has action and thrills to spare. Tom Cruise is hardly stretching his acting muscles, but his performance here is a good reminder of why he is one of the few genuine movie stars around today. Emily Blunt has been better in other films, but her character is developed just enough for the audience to care what happens to her. The rest of the cast contribute decent supporting turns, although Brendan Gleeson is somewhat wasted. That said, any film with Bill Paxton in the kind of role he plays here always gets an extra tick.
All things considered, this is definitely Liman’s best film since The Bourne Identity, and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth make a good job of adapting the source material. I just wish they’d kept the original title.