“Groundhog Day” and “Starship Troopers” are two of my favorite movies, so a mash-up of them would be right up my alley, right? Well, yeah! Based on the 2004 Hiroshi Sakurazaka novel, it stars Tom Cruise as Major William Cage, a US media relations officer who’s never seen any real combat and who’s even a bit of a coward.
The film deftly establishes via a rapid montage of news footage that aliens landed on Earth five years ago and have since invaded most of Europe. Following a victory in Verdun (the French city, not the Montreal hood!), mankind is preparing for a decisive battle on a beach in France – a post-apocalyptic D-Day, basically. In movie terms, this makes for a sci-fi variation on the opening sequence of “Saving Private Ryan”, with soldiers dying left and right as they storm the front, with bullets buzzing all around and things blowing up everywhere.
Somehow, Cage finds himself in the midst of battle, wearing a super cool exoskeleton / mech suit, and unsurprisingly, he quickly dies. What is surprising is that he then wakes up, realizing that he’s gone back to the previous day. He goes through it again, he’s dropped into battle on the beach once more the next morning, he still dies… And then everything repeats itself. It takes a little while for the film to get going with this, but once it’s on, it’s ON. It starts rebooting over and over, with Cage slowly but surely learning from his mistakes until he masters each level, like in a video game. Practice makes perfect, so he goes from wimp to total badass!
It’s a hit-and-miss process, though, which makes for a lot of hilarious beats. I’m a Cruise fan, but if you’re a hater, you should enjoy watching him die hundreds, if not thousands of times! Behind the camera, Doug Liman directs the hell out of this, nearly reaching James Cameron levels of awesome sci-fi action. There’s even a Cameron-style tough female hero involved, a certain Rita “Full Metal Bitch” Vrataski played by Emily Blunt, who out-machoes Cruise.
The result is a kick ass summer blockbuster which, even though it calls to mind the aforementioned “Groundhog Day”, “Starship Troopers” and “Saving Private Ryan”, among other things, ultimately feels fresh and exciting. I was a bit underwhelmed during the third act, where the filmmakers make a questionable decision regarding the central gimmick, but still, there is plenty of thrills and fun to be had with “Edge of Tomorrow”.