It is hard to hear Edge of Tomorrow mentioned without the accompanying “it’s just like Groundhog Day,” or some variation there of. But Edge of Tomorrow is not just another scab picked off of some holy Hollywood money man, or at least not the source material it is based on. That’s right. It is actually based on something, in fact a light novel from Japan, the same wonderful place where you get your crazy video games and anime (those darn Chinese cartoons). And in order to give some credit to Edge of Tomorrow as its own film, I have decided to delve into its source, Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill.
In a general sense, the film and the light novel follow the same story. The male protagonist Cage (Keiji in the light novel) experiences a seemingly never-ending loop of deaths at the “hands” of the invading aliens known as “mimics.” Along the way, he meets the most highly decorated soldier in the war effort, a woman named Rita Vrataski, a badass better known as the Full Metal Bitch. Together, they just might find the way out the loop and defeat the mimics.
The whole story is essentially one operation done hundreds of times. For once, the film actually ventures away from the big battle it promises at the beginning, though that is for a neat tie-up. The light novel ends on a fashionable downbeat (see anything ever made by Martin McDonagh). The thing is, the light novel ending actually holds franchise potential, but oh well.
Tom Cruise as Cage is definitely more likeable than Keiji. Cruise oozes his usual charisma throughout the film. In comparison, Keiji is a disillusioned loner and gets a lot worse before he gets better, but that is the point. Instead of shouldering the world like Cage, Keiji just tries to live. The process of dying over and over again robs Keiji of his humanity and hope in exchange for a terminator-level killing factor. The only other character that truly matters, Rita Vrataski, is just like Keiji except even more isolated and battle-honed. Only they can understand each other’s torment and they pull each other back into humanity. In this sense, the film version more or less keeps their relationship true. Incredibly strong as they are by themselves, Tom Cruise’s Cage and Emily Blunt’s Rita still depend on each other on more than just operation support.
They are called mimics, and not just randomly. In the light novel they are alien nanobots that took after the starfish and look like heavily reinforced, jagged, frog-starfish homunculi. They fire giant javelins that travel approximately ¾ a mile per second and can easily remove a man’s head far, far away from the heavy armor it used to hide behind. The mimics in the film do not possess the same terror factor, but nonetheless possess a cool design as amorphous machine tentacle monsters that can split a man in two with a simple flick.
If I had one wish for this film, it would have been to make the action more like that of the light novel. Everything else for the convenience of a neat, tied-up film plot I can accept if the battles were simply fought like they are in the light novel. Maybe this is me hopping on the Nolan Gritty Train of Darkness and Seriousness but it would have been so cool to see Keiji and Rita dodging huge javelins coming every which way and the two cutting their way through hoards of mimics with 440 pound battle-axes. Because of the axe weight, Keiji and Rita are the only people in the world that can use them without accidentally twisting themselves in two, as they probably learned from doing just that. Not to say that the guns in the film aren’t cool, but the battle-axes would have given the film such an edge over other sci-fi flicks.
Even with its elements of Hollywood cheesiness, Edge of Tomorrow is still a fun sci-fi action film that manages to separate itself from the standard post-apocalyptic or sci-fi. Sure, it could have taken its content a lot further and darker. Director Ridley Scott anyone? What Edge of Tomorrow achieves should warrant a good view nonetheless.