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Edge of Tomorrow (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 113 minutes.

OK for children.

On the surface, this looks awful, a typical 21st-century major studio production. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a smarmy PR specialist, is assigned to a team invading Europe that has been taken over by an alien force and is poised to take over the world. Naturally, these are creatures that look and act like incommunicative monsters, most probably creations of some computer in the sky. Cage, who has never seen a day of combat, is thrown into becoming a part of a futuristic D-Day.

Prospectively worse, itís directed by Doug Liman, who directed the first of three Bourne films (The Bourne Identity), the only one that wasnít any good. Liman also directed the dismal Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2003), so I wasnít expecting anything that smacked of being entertaining.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find this thoroughly engrossing and extremely well-directed with humor and pace. Cruise does a terrific job of acting and his comedic talent makes the film something I wasnít expecting at all.

Without giving anything away, this is a gripping, humorous time-travel movie, based on the Japanese light novel (a novel targeting middle and high school students) All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka,  that starts out on a high note with a fine confrontation between Cage and General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), that lets Cage know what the army is all about. This high standard is maintained as Cage finds himself trapped into suicidal combat in a force in England ready to invade France by air the next day.

The special effects are very good and Liman is smart in that they donít overwhelm the story. Also effective is the modern futuristic battle garb, called the Exosuit. Cruise gets some comedic effects out of it as he is forced to familiarize himself.

Also appearing is Emily Blunt. While she has a major role, she doesnít appear onscreen that much and her role is less than challenging, to say the least. Even so, she and Cruise establish good, believable chemistry.

This is Cruiseís movie and he makes it into a winner with a lot of help from Liman, who keeps the pace up throughout, and a really good script (Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth).

Although the locations are London, Paris and the French coast countryside, almost the entire film was shot at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, capturing the war-torn look seen throughout the film. The one exception is a shot of a helicopter landing in Trafalgar square, the first time a film company was allowed to land a helicopter there.

For a futuristic, special-effects laden film, this is one of the best.