Seriously, are we supposed to call it Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow now? That’s what the packaging of the Blu-ray (and its title on VOD) suggests, which is odd for a movie that made a little over a hundred million domestically. Generally that sort of rebranding happens when a film flops, but perhaps this change was made because that’s what audiences thought the title was from the marketing. Regardless, this Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie was easily one of the better movies of this past summer, but perhaps Cruise fatigue or title confusion left the film to underperform. Starring alongside Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton, Cruise does great work in this video game-inspired film and my review of the Blu-ray of Edge of Tomorrow follows after the jump.
Cruise stars as Major William Cage, who’s been recruited to act as a PR man for the fight against the aliens that have all but taken over Europe (starting in Germany, which is a nice though unsubtle touchstone for the film), with England the next big place to conquer. Cage is told by his new supervisor General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) that he’s to go in with the troops, which he rejects, and that leads to him being bumped down to private status and put into combat without much preparation.
It’s all but a death sentence, and Cruise is hopelessly outmatched and incompetent in battle, but when he dies he does so with a mouthful of special alien blood that has him wake up the day before. As he goes through combat again (and again) he runs into Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Blunt), known as The Angel of Verdun and a “full metal bitch” for her success at a previous battle. She’s been through the “live die repeat” experience before, and so she tells him to meet her when he dies. Once he’s finally able to get to her on the army base, she reveals that the only way to win the war is to kill the omega alien, which is the alien’s hive mind (a more powerful brain bug as it were), but to do that, he’s going to have to train. The two go after the omega, but it seems the aliens are wise to their plans.
What may have kept audiences at bay is knowing that the film, which is confidently directed by Doug Liman, is going to have to repeat a lot of sequences, and that the opening of the movie is going to involve a lot of exposition, but without the comedy that comes from someone like Bill Murray being stuck in the situation. The first day has to set up the major players and you know that Cruise is going to have to lose. A lot. Which means it takes a while for the film to kick into gear, but once it does it’s a blast, and the script by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (one gets the impression a lot of the heavy lifting was done by McQuarrie) is filled with clever moments that keep escalating the tension. That said – as the supplements reveal – the film went into production without a finished script and they never completely cracked the third act. It works well enough, but once Cruise is stripped of his rebirthing power, the film has a big action set piece where the stakes just aren’t as awesome you’d hope for. The film just doesn’t have a fifth gear to get into, which is fine, but it deflates the finale a little.
Cruise does what he often does with roles like this: Use his innate charm against himself. His character is a coward with a great smile, and only eventually becomes a Cruise-like figure, which takes a lot of work. But the real star here is Emily Blunt, who plays a complete bad-ass with the right amount of empathy. The film never makes much of the two as possible romantic interests, though the two flirt just enough that it’s not entirely platonic either. All in all, it’s the sort of smart blockbuster that you would figure people would prefer over something like Transformers 4, but perhaps it will do better on home video with its new title.
Warner Brothers presents the film on Blu-ray with a DVD and Digital copy. The film is in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. The presentation is immaculate, and the surround track is impressive. As a big summer movie, it makes for a great demo disc. Extras kick off with a section for “Operation Downfall” with an “Adrenaline Cut” (3 min.) that picks the most ass-kicking footage from the invasion sequences, and it’s followed by “Storming the Beach” (9 min.), which focuses on how they designed the beach battle, and how they modeled it on World War II, specifically D-Day. It’s followed by the piece “Weapons of the Future” (8 min.), which speaks to the metal exoskeleton suits the characters wear, while “Creatures Not of This World” (6 min.) focuses on the alien design. “On the Edge with Doug Liman” (43 min.) goes deep into Liman’s working process, and the chaos of the shoot, while also showcasing that Liman loves to play tennis. The disc concludes with seven deleted scenes (8 min) that are mostly snippets, though there is one alternate take that shows the reshooting of the joke was the right call.