Title: Edge of Tomorrow (“adapted” from the novel All You Need Is Kill)
Writer (original novel): Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Screenplay(s): Dante Harper, Joby Harold, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, Simon Kinberg, Christopher McQuarrie
Directed by Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Kick Gurry, et al
Distributed by Warner Brothers
Reviewed by Grim_Noir
Is Edge of Tomorrow a big splashy dumb/fun Summer blockbuster? Yes. Yes, it is.
Is Edge of Tomorrow a faithful and intelligent adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s Japanese future-war novel, All You Need Is Kill? No. Sadly, it is not.
Read Any Good Movies Lately?
In the near future, alien eco-weapons (called Mimics) crash on Earth and begins wiping out all life on the planet. Keiji Kiriya is a 20-year-old private in the United Defense Force. The UDF has developed special armored suits (called “Jackets”) to fight these lethal biomachines. Keiji has spent six months in boot camp learning how to fight, especially in a Jacket. Like anyone who has served, he emerges from the experience more cynical and sly to the ways of getting around military command.
Despite all that extensive training and expensive hardware, Keiji will die the minute he hits the beach in his first major battle.
Keiji only joined the Army to get a steady income, hoping to impress his librarian crush. He fully (and with dark-humor) understands that storming a beach full of aliens is part of his job description.
In the movie, Tom Cruise plays Bill Cage, a middle-aged Ad Exec who only joined the military’s PR division when his firm went belly-up as the war started. He is expected to be on the stormed beach for the barely-justified (even by military standards) reasonings of a mad general (played by Brendan Gleeson).
In the book, the “Jackets” are these Iron Man/War Machine-like pieces of enveloping hardware that are constantly fine-tuned to the wearer from boot camp onward. In the movie, they appear to be heavy-duty steadycam units that are strapped onto any old smoe’s back with little or no programming.
In both, Keiji/Cage’s unit is ambushed while storming the beach (Okinawa in the book, Normandy in the flick) and he dies…only he reawakens 48 hours earlier, retaining the memories of the upcoming bloodbath. This repeats with Kenny-like regularity, until he crosses paths with warrior-protege, Rita Vrataski, who appears to know a lot more about what is happening to him than she wants to let on…
Then, the book and the movie veer away from each other, again. And this is where the problems truly start:
Edge of Tomorrow never really establishes WHY Rita is doing what she does. (The book has a wonderful flashback that really fleshes out her morals and her motivations.)
However, a bigger problem is that All You Need Is Kill is a small, intimate story of one man’s discovery of his purpose in this world (and getting out of a time loop, in the process). It is a heartelt, slightly tragic and complete authentic look at a single battle and its meaning to one man.
Unfortunately, in a well-documented case of studio micro-management, Warner Brothers is more interested in a popcorn-fest where one man single-handedly wins an entire war. This leads to wholly-too-predictable action beats (how many times have we seen the “n00b-accidentally-discharges-his-weapon-in-an-enclosed-space” schtick or the “I-actually-did-have-time-to-pull-all-the-granade-pins” sequence?), culminating with an inevitable boss dual that any player of Call of Duty could have written in their sleep. Nothing new. Nothing out-of-the-box. NOTHING from the third act of the novel.
Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity; Mr. & Mrs. Smith) tries gamely to make things more visually interesting. If he could just break his bad habit of too-fast, swirling camera shots that make it impossible to tell what just happened or who’s dead now…
The two standouts in this flick are Bill Paxton and Emily Blunt. Paxton’s Sergeant Ferrell is a dangerous combination of brio and guile whose scene-chewing and scene-stealing blows Cruise out of the water every time they are on screen together. You begin to look forward to the time-jumps JUST to get back to Ferrell and his mindgames. Even when he is being bamboozled by a one-step-ahead-Cage, later in the movie, Paxton still finds new depths to plumb with this character.
And Emily Blunt! After a career playing helpless damsels and ladies in historical tea cozies, Ms. Blunt truly comes out of the gate swinging in her action heroine debut. Buff and tough-as-nails, you believe that the solider boys would be terrified of this wee lass. My only regret is that they did not let her wield the double-bevelled battle axe of her literary equivelent.
Oranges Are The New Apples
There is a hoary old chestnut in the Entertainment industry which goes, “You don’t understand: Changes NEED to be made to adapt a novel to the big screen.” This is usually true when the book is very cerebral and/or contains very little external action. Bafflingly, All You Need Is Kill is a screen-ready war novel that has had a lot of things chopped out for no clear reason: Rita’s background and motivations are removed, two supporting female characters are excised, and half of Rita’s discoveries are given to Cage (the “late-comer” to time travel) to reveal.
This should have been Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers meets Full Metal Jacket, with a soupcon of An Officer And A Gentleman. Instead, it proves to be an allegory for Tom Cruise’s current career state: Perpetually trapped by his own fame into doing the SAME action picture over-and-over again…
Like everyone else, I say that Blade Runner is a great movie, but I know a few diehard Philip K. Dick fans who add, “And, hopefully, someday, someone will make a movie of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep…” Likewise, while some may enjoy Edge of Tomorrow as the brash, brainless Summer sci-fi actioner that it is, I will be adding “And, hopefully, someday, someone will make a movie of All You Need Is Kill“.
* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or “Friend” on Facebook or Good Reads to end his self-delusions.
Tags: All You Need Is Kill, An Officer And A Gentleman, Bill Cage, Bill Paxton, Blade Runner, Brendan Gleeson, Call of Duty, Christopher McQuarrie, Dante Harper, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Doug Liman, Edge of Tomorrow, Emily Blunt, Full Metal Jacket, future war, Grim_Noir, Groundhog Day, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Jackets, Japanese, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, Joby Harold, Keiji Kiriya, Kick Gurry, military, Mimics, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Normandy, Okinawa, Rita Vrataski, Sergeant Ferrell, Simon Kinberg, Starship Troopers, Summer blockbuster, The Bourne Identity, Time Travel, Tom Cruise, United Defense Force, Warner Brothers