Film: Edge of Tomorrow, directed by Doug Liman

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 October, 2014, 11:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 October, 2014, 11:32pm

Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton
Director: Doug Liman

The surprise of the year for anyone who had grown tired of seeing Tom Cruise in sci-fi films that seemed to blur into one another. The production sees director Doug Liman and his star poking wicked fun at Cruise's off-screen persona and at all those all-action characters we have been fed before.

Here, he plays a soldier who wants to do anything but fight, a public relations operative who is thrown into a battle humankind can't possibly win against alien forces that are on the brink of destroying the world.

And while we are never in any doubt Cruise's character will rise to the challenge, there's a joy in how his conversion into hard-ass takes place in a Groundhog Day manner that sees him experience the same day over and over and over until he starts to learn how to fight - and, more importantly, how to work out a way to save the world.

There are clever little nods to history throughout, to battles long gone: Edge of Tomorrow taps into our collective memory in a way that stirs an emotional connection to what we are witnessing, even though we know this is not real.

The scenario harks back to the second world war and the Normandy landings, the support cast representing different nations - another masterstroke that ensures audiences around the globe have another connection with the film.

That Cruise is given so much to work with, a layered character who slowly becomes resigned to his fate, and one eventually willing to take on the challenge thrown at him, gives the film a rare depth, considering it's actually a fanciful piece of nonsense.

The interplay with Emily Blunt, believable too as a super soldier, adds further weight to events as they unfold. There are surprisingly brutal flashes of violence that give the film a nasty hard edge whenever the filmmaker seems to threaten to play things for laughs.

In the end, we are presented with a smart and highly intelligent piece of sci-fi.

Extras: Operation Downfall: Adrenaline Cut, Storming the Beach, Weapons of the Future, Creatures Not of This World, On the Edge With Doug Liman featurettes; deleted scenes.