Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014) review

Based on the Japanese novel "All you Need is Kill", and subsequent manga, "Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow" (who needs a snappy title, eh?) sees the action of the book transposed from Asia to the UK and Europe. The plot involves the invasion of earth by creatures known as mimics, these fearsome multi-tentacled aliens that would have given H.P. Lovecraft nightmares are an unstoppable force, easily decimating the puny humans sent out to stop them. Humanity does have a hope with the invention of exoskeleton battle suits that allow them to fight back against the creatures, even going so far as to win a few battles. We meet our hero, Major William Cage, as he is busted down to private and conscripted into an expeditionary force that will attempt to take back Europe from the creatures, in an operation that is a modern equivalent of the D-Day landings. When they reach the beach, they are met by fierce resistance from the creatures and it soon becomes apparent, thanks to their size and speed, that the humans are completely overwhelmed. In a dramatic twist from the usual hero narrative, Cage is killed in this first assault. But suddenly he finds himself waking up on the same day that he set out for the beach. It is later explained to him that as well as being ferocious killers, the alien race are also able to manipulate time, giving them a supreme edge over any enemies as they can simply reset every day and re-do it again with the knowledge of what their opponents are planning. After being splashed with alien blood, Cage also now has this ability and is able to relive the same day, over and over, until he gets good enough, or knows enough to finally destroy the attackers.

This film could quite simply be described as "Starship Troopers" meets "Groundhog Day", in a way that this kind of "x meets x" comparison usually falls short. The fantastic alien race are well designed and terrifying. Unlike many science-fiction races they seem to be completely without weakness and so quick and deadly that it seems entirely hopeless taking them on face-to-face. The time-loop that plays through the majority of the film is an interesting touch. It is said the author of the book based this idea on a video game player who is able to endlessly restart a level until their skill reaches a level to beat it. The film does a good job with the expected gags about him knowing what people will say, being able to kill himself and return to the beginning. And throughout there is a sense of fun. One of my favourite comedic scenes involved them gunning down an alien that had burst out of a caravan they were towing. The performances of Tom Cruise as Cage and Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski, an exceptional soldier who was also stuck in a similar time-loop.

I wouldn't say that the film is without flaws. The time-loop mechanic does become a little strained when you have seen it done as many times as it is in this film. It suffers a little from the same repetitive action sequences with people firing at tentacled monsters. It also falls into cliche a little with the coward becoming a hero, the typical love story, and the whole concept of alien invasion. But overall it's an enjoyable experience. Great to see Tom Cruise in a more comedic role. Emily Blunt is incredible as the bad-ass giant sword wielding super soldier. And there is enough originality in the central premise that it is worth watching to see how everything resolves itself. It is good to see a film that involves people thinking through a problem rather than just taking down aliens with superior firepower. I would recommend this for science-fiction fans. A solid action blockbuster.