Groundhog Day with guns
EDGE OF TOMORROW (M)
Directed by Doug Liman
Wait a few years, and any invention you can name will be turned to the business of war.
From fire, to the wheel, to the airplane, to true love; there's not a good and fine thing that has sprung from the human mind that hasn't been repurposed to hurt someone else. Even your granny's sewing machine was one of the inspirations behind the Gatling gun.
And now, goddamnit, they've gone and weaponised Groundhog Day.
Oh sure, the writers and the geeks will tell you that Edge of Tomorrow is based on an award winning Japanese sci-fi novel, and that any resemblance to a certain well-beloved Bill Murray movie from 1993 is purely co-incidental. But I know, and so will you after you've seen it, that the pitch for Edge of Tomorrow was "it's Groundhog Day meetsStarship Troopers". And so it is, just without the mighty heart of the former, or the self-awareness and satire of the latter.
In the future, a gang of alien nasties have invaded the Earth. They landed - War of The Worlds-style - by meteor, and took over most of western Europe. Now they are poised to cross the English channel, and also to push eastward into Russia and Asia (why the writers created the obvious World War IIanalogy, I don't know. It adds nothing to the import or meaning of the film, it just is).
On the English south coast, a re-invasion fleet of British and American forces is assembled. Among them is Tom Cruise's ex-advertising executive, unwillingly conscripted into uniform after a bad run-in with a General (Brendan Gleeson, wonderful as ever, but utterly wasted.) Cruise is strapped into an exo-skeleton, and dropped on the beaches of Normandy to fight the buggish swarm. Along with the rest of the army, Cruise lasts about two minutes flat before he is blown to bits. But then, in a way that is surely meant to suggest the inevitable video game spin off, the narrative resets and Cruise wakes up 24 hours in the past, with no choice but to relive the day, and to try and make some meaningful changes if he's ever going to make it out alive. Joining him on the journey is Emily Blunt, who is afflicted with more-or-less the same disorder.
Edge of Tomorrow has pace, and few good jokes, some spectacular set pieces, a couple of leads who work well together, and who seem to genuinely like each other. It's just that Edge of Tomorrow feels - and is - assembled from parts of other, better, films.
Apart from the aforementioned Groundhog Dayand Starship Troopers, there's chunks of Looper, Saving Private Ryan and Duncan Jones' terrific Source Code all here. Hell, even the aliens' appearance shares a load of design DNA with the electric squiddies from The Matrix.
None of this makes Edge of Tomorrow a bad film. Most films owe a debt of inspiration to a few others, and "spot the homage/rip-off" is a tedious game for film nerds at the best of times. But Edge of Tomorrow wears its whakapapa on its sleeve more blatantly than most. I actually enjoyed the film quite a lot, and on the big screen, it does everything you're hoping for from an action movie, but the lack of original ideas was a distraction.
The Dominion Post