The epic action of Edge of Tomorrow unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loopforcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again...and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.
When I saw 'Edge of Tomorrow' this summer I was struck by how unique its main character really is. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) isn't the typical gung-ho save-the-world type of hero we're used to seeing in summer action movies. Perhaps, the most endearing aspect of 'Edge of Tomorrow' is the fact that its hero starts out as a coward.
Aliens called mimics have invaded the earth. They're on the brink of taking over the whole of Europe. They're quick and coordinated. However, mankind has come up with a way to fight the enemy. We've created super suits. Military-grade exoskeletons, which transform the wearer into a super soldier. When we join the story, the world's military might is getting ready to launch a wholesale offensive in Europe which is meant to eradicate the mimics once and for all. It's a dangerous proposition, because if it fails, the military would be so weakened that the mimic horde could possibly spread across the globe.
Major Cage is a PR mastermind, a talking head in an officer's uniform, who sells the general public on the war effort. He appears on talk shows with his talking points, pumping up positivity, which in turn floods the military with new, willing recruits. Cage isn't a soldier. Never has been, never wants to be. That is until a non-nonsense general played by Brendan Gleeson orders him to the frontlines in hopes of putting a PR spin on the planned offensive taking place the next day. Cage, the coward he is, tries to weasel his way out of his new assignment any way he can. He's not a fighter. He doesn't want to be a fighter. Knows that almost certain death awaits him if he is thrust into combat on the frontlines. He isn't a hero. Especially not in the most general action movie terms.
Based on the novel, "All You Need is Kill," by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, 'Edge of Tomorrow' is a darkly comedic war movie, which successfully combines the framework of 'Groundhog Day,' and the wartime chaos of 'Saving Private Ryan.' See, Cage is killed in battle as soon as he hits the beach. He's completely inept, and the entire force is caught off-guard as the mimic threat is even more dug in than previously thought. So, Cage is killed, only to awake again. A day before his death. Same surroundings. Only this time with the memory of being forced to go to war, actually going, and actually getting killed.
Perhaps you already know why Cage is reliving his fate over and over, but I won't reveal it here. While it's not really a spoiler, the less you know about "Edge of Tomorrow" going in, the more you're likely to enjoy it.
Christopher McQuarrie's screenplay is just as funny as it is action-packed. McQuarrie knows how to write for Cruise as we've seen in 'Jack Reacher.' He knows how to get the best out of Cruise's sardonic wit. While Major Cage relives the day over and over, he dies again and again. He dies many heroic deaths, fighting aliens. However, there are some humorous deaths along the way. 'Edge of Tomorrow,' quite possibly, offers the most death-related laughs from a 2014 movie.
I lost track of how many things I really liked about 'Edge of Tomorrow,' but would be remiss if I didn't mention the fine work of Emily Blunt. The chemistry between Cruise and Blunt is magnetic from the outset. Blunt's character is the face of the war effort. A real-life alien-killing superhero. Though she has secrets of her own. The two form a team. For her own reasons, she's the only one who understands what Cage is experiencing, and why.
Somehow 'Edge of Tomorrow' energetically packs together a disparate collection of narrative elements into a cohesive, engaging whole. One might quibble with the logic of the ideas on display, like why are so many alien-invading forces in movies hampered by the drawbacks of hive-mindedness? You just have to go with it. If you buy into the premise, which is easy given its instant likability, the rest of the movie is joyful premium summer blockbuster filmmaking.
Vital Stats: The Blu-ray Disc
The 3D combo pack of 'Edge of Tomorrow' comes with two 50GB Blu-ray discs (one with the 3D version of the film and another with the 2D version and special features), a DVD copy, and an UltraViolet Digital Copy. It comes in a peculiar case emblazoned with "Live. Die. Repeat," in extremely large type on the case, and 'Edge of Tomorrow' hidden away at the bottom. It's something that was brought up with the cover art was first released. It's almost as if the movie was subtlety retitled for home video release. 'Live. Die. Repeat' makes a bit more sense than 'Edge of Tomorrow' anyway.
The blue Elite keepcase stacks two discs on one of the inside covers and the other disc on the opposite inside cover. The case slips vertically into a cardboard slip cover with a lenticular front. Nothing but a Warner Bros. vanity reel place before the static main menu, a menu which shows a poster-like image that features an awful 3D look. Thank heaven the movie's 3D is worlds better than this menu image.
The 1080p transfer from Warner Brothers is as flawless as big-budget actioners come. It's OK to expect perfection from a recently released blockbuster when it hits Blu-ray, and 'Edge of Tomorrow' doesn't disappoint. Even with Doug Liman's sometimes shaky visuals and quick-cut shots – which can hurt the integrity of a 3D film's visual coherence and overall experience – 'Edge of Tomorrow''s video presentation is clear, deeply layered and precisely detailed.
The war scenes are full of action, every fine detail being captured and properly placed in the 3D space. Small specks of sand and mud fly up off the beach as explosions overtake the visual area. Fine detail is so perfect that it's easy to see distinct clumps of mud as it flies through the air during frenzied action. In these moments, each of the hundreds of tiny pieces of dirt and debris cruising through the screen can not only be seen clearly, but can be spotted with appropriate depth into the picture. Other examples of fine detail like the worn look of each and every super suit, or the blood and dirt covering faces, are just a few instances where the video really shines.
Being a post-production 3D conversion, I was worried about how Liman's futuristic war picture would look when adapted to the third dimension – but my worry was for naught. It's only in the first invasion of Normandy that the occasionally frantic editing can mildy cause the 3D effects to become muddled. Aside from that instance, the decision to convert to 3D worked in its favor. The high amount of previously mentioned debris creates a chaotic and nervous viewing experience that matches the character's own experience. Just minutes into that first attack, we finally get a good look at mimics. The first full-body mimic quickly blasts its tentacle-like limbs outward at its threatening targets. Several of the limbs shoot towards the camera and create a nice little effect that protrudes with nice range. These same solid uses of 3D are featured throughout the entire film, from its beach attack all the way through its high octane watery end. The 3D never lets up and never goes flat.
Colors are bold. The orange flames of the movie's countless explosions. The blue and gold emanating from the bodies of the mimics is perfectly rendered. No colors suffer the muted fate that some discs feature when viewed through darkened 3D glasses. I didn't notice any artifacts at all. Banding, aliasing, or any other anomalies are completely absent. This is as good as it gets when viewing a blockbuster on home video.
Warner's full-bodied DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is something for your ears to behold. Every bit as loud and immersive as Warner's release of 'Godzilla', this track throws you right in the middle of the alien-killing action and doesn't let up.
Each and every channel is generously packed with sound. The rear channels are alive with all sorts of wartime action. Everything from staccato blasts of gunfire, to rolling, shrieking mimics as the tear from one side of the frame to another, the around the rear, and back front-and-center again. The nimble sound design allows the fast-moving mimics to dart around without any lost sound whatsoever. The extra side channels allow the movement of the action to seamlessly transition around the room.
LFE is deep and constant. There are more than enough explosions to keep the bass thundering forth from the sub-woofer. Dialogue is perfectly clear and concise up front. Even during the most insane action scenes, dialogue can still be heard as intelligible as always. This is a killer audio mix. Demo material all the way.
No special features are found on the 3D disc. To view the following, you'll need to pop in the 2D Blu-ray disc.
'Edge of Tomorrow' was one of the biggest surprises of the summer of 2014. Its story was engaging. You really can't go wrong with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as your leads. With a sarcastically funny script from Christopher McQuarrie and some visually stunning imagery provided by Doug Liman and cinematographer Dion Beebe, 'Edge of Tomorrow' had everything one could want from a summer blockbuster. A smart, fun sci-fi movie with a demo-worthy HD and 3D presentation to boot. 'Edge of Tomorrow' comes highly recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.