Edge of Tomorrow ★★★★

"Why the hell would you do that?" - Master Sergeant Farell

In an almost-as-unexpected move as this film's drastic title change from All You Need Is Kill to Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman's 2014 actioner actually turns out to be rather brilliant. A true sleeper hit that's destined for the "Ah, the box office was lacklustre, but the film was bloody brilliant" file, this is the latest vehicle which cements Tom Cruise as rightfully the best non-franchise (if we're leaving out Mission: Impossible) blockbuster hero possibly ever.

But before we get onto Cruise, let's look at the real star of the film: the script. The Cruiser's best bud, Christopher McQuarrie, and the Butterworth brothers adapt Hiroshi Sakurazaka into a marvellously self-aware screenplay that manages to be highly original while also giving lots of credit to its influences. Take the fictional NATO agency, United Defence Force: a sci-fi corporation so overblown you could swear Paul Verhoeven is helming this instead of Doug Liman. And just look at Cruise's Major Bill Cage; he could have been lifted straight from the 'Burke' template James Cameron used in Aliens. The stylistic influences are countless, but the concoction is infectiously constructed for a new (if still predictable) style of blockbuster; keeping you on your toes and teasing your brain while still leading you along to the type of conclusion you've seen before.

The script is packed full of zingers and unexpected comedy moments, but it's undoubtedly the conviction of the performers that carries these. The Cruiser taps into his movie-star charm for the transparent bravado that lends to so many verbal pratfall moments, and herein lies the brilliance of his performance. He walks the line between being plain unlikeable and endearingly down-trodden in a quick-marching world, and his arc is wonderfully aided again by the satisfying nature of the screenplay. Emily Blunt achieves the same, furthering the 'Full Metal Bitch'iness of her performance to gleeful levels, maintaining an aloof nature while also being an intriguing character. One particular moment between her and Cruise towards the end falls fully into eye-rolling blockbuster tropes, but their relationship is tenderly and unexpectedly violently compelling. Smaller roles inhabited by Brendan Gleeson and Bill Paxton are simply a joy to see them turn up, making this a small but well-rounded summer blockbuster cast.

Liman directs the action thick and fast, and achieves the impossible within the constraints of the story: making it new each time. While the action scenes are essentially the same one played over and over in the opening half, Liman explores every action movie trope with child-like curiosity and craftsman-like skill, dropping in comedy beats with the real horror of war, with one particular injury essentially being a watered-down reference to Saving Private Ryan. Occasionally, the villainous 'Mimics' are a little too evasive for their own good and confuse the viewer with their speed, but on the whole, the action is intense and pulse-pounding.

Although the ending is rushed and hastily-played out, Edge of Tomorrow is a granite-solid summer blockbuster that probably should get more credit than it's actually going to garner.

Plus points for being the tightest blockbuster I've seen in a good long time.

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