Edge of Tomorrow Blu-ray Review: Live, Die, Repeat
Director Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow finds the world at war with an aggressive alien race known simply as Mimics. These creatures invaded Earth using asteroids as their vessels and quickly laid waste to most of Europe. With the enemy bearing down on the United Kingdom and threatening to quickly cross the Atlantic thereafter, the United Defense Force is preparing a major offensive on the shores of France utilizing soldiers augmented by a mechanical combat suit.
War is always a tough sell to the masses, but Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) has used his megawatt smile and killer charm to effectively do so using the media as his weapon. His slick ways have also helped him avoid taking part in any sort of actual combat as humanity’s future hangs in the balance.
When Cage is informed by a general named Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) that his next round of winning the hearts and minds involves being sent to the front lines of the upcoming battle to cover it, Cage tries his best to worm his way out. He even goes as far as to attempt to blackmail Brigham, a move that backfires spectacularly. Cage winds up being arrested, stripped of his rank and thrown right into the middle of battle. He lasts less than five minutes in a spectacular mission gone wrong.
Prior to buying the farm, Cage manages to kill a Mimic with an explosive and winds up ingesting some of the alien’s blood by virtue of it melting through his face. Because of this, Cage finds himself stuck in an endless loop that forces him to relive the past twenty-four hours over and over again with a restart commencing every time he dies.
Cage isn’t the only person to experience this extreme case of deja vu. The military’s ace soldier, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) had the same thing happen on her first day of combat as well. She offers to help Cage sharpen his fighting skills in the hopes that he may be able to find a way to get past the battle on the shores of France, destroy the enemy and stop the war.
Edge of Tomorrow is a science-fiction variation on Groundhog Day with elements of Starship Troopers, Aliens, Saving Private Ryan and a first-person shooter video game such as Call of Duty or Gears of War (live, fight, die, start the level over, etc.) thrown in for good measure. It’s a cinematic recipe that could hardly be considered original or enticing; a facet amplified by the truly awful ad campaign the film’s distributor Warner Brothers cobbled together this past summer that hindered the film’s box office potential greatly.
With a budget close to $180 million, does Edge of Tomorrow follow fellow summer blockbuster turkeys like Transformers: Enough Already and The Amazing Spider-Meh 2 in the “all sizzle and no steak” department? Much to my surprise — borderline shock, actually — it did not. Thanks to a cast and crew who take a concept and run like hell with it, Edge of Tomorrow turned out not only to be the best film of the 2014 summer movie season, but also one of the best of the year thus far.
Liman, whose output has been soul-crushingly disappointing over the past dozen years, returns to the type of focused, confident filmmaking he displayed in 1999’s Go and 2002’s The Bourne Identity (a.k.a. his last decent film). With the help of a smart, darkly funny screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, John-Henry and Jez Butterworth, Liman keeps the “live, die, repeat” aspect of Cage’s situation fresh by throwing curve balls at the audience at every opportunity without boring or confusing them. The battle scenes are expertly handled and photographed, the film’s pacing never falters thanks to some deft editing and perhaps best of all, the characters never become overshadowed by the visual pyrotechnics and effects.
This movie has had a lot of obstacles to overcome in its journey to movie screens worldwide. In addition to the recognizable storytelling elements and crap ad campaign, there is the film’s star and the public’s perception of him. When it comes to Tom Cruise starring in a movie, I have no issue whatsoever. Many out there in movieland do thanks to that couch-jumping, career-derailing period from the middle of the last decade. It wouldn’t surprise me if that long-standing animosity were another factor that helped kill Tomorrow at the U.S. box office. It’s a shame that people cannot separate the two personas, because Cruise is one of the last honest-to-goodness, reliable movie stars we have working in Hollywood today.
While the 51-year old has starred in his fair share of iffy-to-awful projects over the past decade or so such as Oblivion, Valkyrie and Rock of Ages, his acting has always been somewhat commendable. Cruise’s performance in Edge is more than laudable; it’s downright worthy of high praise. Playing a smarmy coward is something different for actor onscreen (well, the coward part anyway). It gives him a vulnerability that makes him more relatable to the viewer and it’s one that helps his character arc be a convincing one. Cruise also displays a comic timing we haven’t seen too much of either. With a lesser degree of his usual intensity, Cruise gives us a spirited, convincing performance that easily shoulders the massive production.
While Cruise is the front and center of the film, the rest of the cast is also worthy of high praise. Paxton is great fun as a tough-as-nails sergeant while Gleeson in his brief role is convincing as a general you wouldn’t want to screw with. But the real standout in the supporting cast is, of course, the person who shares the most screen time with Cruise: Emily Blunt. No damsel-in-distress waiting for Cruise to save both her and the day, Blunt plays a variation of the Ripley character from the Alien films and makes for a commanding action heroine. Not bad for an actress who vowed nine years ago in an interview that never to play “a spear carrier in a Tom Cruise movie.”
Edge of Tomorrow on Blu-ray is a combo pack release with DVD and Digital HD. This is a big release for Warner Home Video considering the theatrical struggles so it comes as no surprise that the audio and video presentations are both worthy of endless praise. Imperfections are nonexistent, and the color palette looks incredibly lifelike whether it’s an intimate scene with Cruise and Blunt, or mass chaos on the French beach with freakishly fast Mimics popping out of the sand. Where digital effects are used, which are mostly during combat, the composition between what’s real and what isn’t is utterly seamless.
War is an assault on the senses and the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for Edge of Tomorrow brings the noise. The combat scenes on the beach reach low and deep to test the limits of any subwoofer out there. It’s the type of soundtrack that you will want to let loose for your friends during the combat sequences, yet also doesn’t falter during the quieter moments.
The bonus features fall into the realm of average with a collection of featurettes, some deleted scenes that are actually more alternate scenes, and a highlight reel of the best action scenes in a pseudo trailer. There’s no actual trailer or commentary, which is frankly a bummer as it would have been great to hear Liman, Cruise and Blunt talk about the challenges of making the film outside of the behind-the-scenes materials in the extras.
- The Adrenaline Cut (2.5 min)
- Storming the Beach featurette (9 min)
- Weapons of the Future featurette (8 min)
- Creatures Not of This World (5 min)
- On the Edge with Doug Liman (42 min)
- Deleted Scenes (7 total)
Edge of Tomorrow was originally called All You Need Is Kill and it has now been rechristened Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow for its home video debut. A better title may have been Redemption. Not just because of Cage’s redemption as a human being over the course of the film, but also because Edge of Tomorrow serves as career redemption for Doug Liman and Tom Cruise. It has everything you want from a big summer movie and even a little more. Forget the awful ad campaign and its dumb title. Plunk down your $20 for the Blu-ray, kick back and get ready to have some ridiculous fun.
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