As a reviewer I see somewhere in the vicinity of a hundred and fifty films a year. Edge Of Tomorrow is easily going to figure in my top ten for 2014, not just because of its relentless pace and imaginative plot but because it leaves you thinking about whether the ability to ‘re-do’ our lives would do us any good.
Edge of Tomorrow is the creation of director Doug Liman – you might know him from his earlier success stories Mr & Mrs Smith, Jumper and The Bourne Identity trilogy. This futuristic take on a world invaded by aliens lacks none of their energy. A meteor has crashed into the near-present earth, releasing a species called the Mimics that are controlled by a hive mind. The entire European continent has been overrun but humanity is rallying on the shores of Great Britain for an invasion that seems certain to turn the tide. However what our brave soldiers don’t reckon with is the hive mind’s ability to bend time, re-setting the day after each failure and learning from its mistakes so that its forces achieve a perfect victory.
That is until Tom Cruise enters as Major William Cage, the most reluctant recruit in United Defence Force history. Cage is a PR officer forced into a battle suit for the final push. But during the landing he accidentally inherits the hive mind’s ability to re-do time. In a bizarre twist on Groundhog Day Cage finds himself doomed to repeat the same abortive invasion over and over, always culminating in his death. Yet his new-found ability holds the hope that humanity can find a way out of this spiral into extinction.
Edge of Tomorrow draws on the hugely popular sci-fi novel All You Need Is Kill by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka and so its progress is less a collection of special effects and more a thought out consideration of the problems of time travel. Human beings have often wondered what they might achieve if they could only have another go at their mistakes, and Hollywood has obliged with classic time-loop films like 12 Monkeys and more recently Source Code and Looper. At the heart of each plot is a recognition that humans are fallible and likely to be the cause of their own suffering. However Edge of Tomorrow asks whether or not we would avoid our destruction, even if we could?
Cage finds himself at a point in the story where he knows his companion, the indomitable Rita Vritaski (Emily Blunt) is going to die no matter how many times he replays the scenario. He knows the future, and Vritaski acknowledges this, but still refuses to turn from her course because she will not let go of her plan. It reminded me of the truth Abraham spoke to one of the damned in Jesus story of ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’:
“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Sometimes we can be so committed to our path that not even the clearest evidence – like a man returning from the dead to tell us it only ends in disaster – will not turn our feet aside.
There’s no doubt of Vritaski’s sincerity, but she remains sincerely wrong. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how strongly we believe that God will turn a blind eye to sin, we’re good enough for heaven, there is no afterlife, etc. etc. If history records that a man has returned from death to tell us definitively what waits on the other side, our convictions otherwise matter little. But the question is will we be so committed to our view of how we want the world to be that we refuse to listen? Or can we trust ourselves to the resurrected Jesus and step over the Edge of Tomorrow, confidently knowing what awaits us?
Distributor: Warner Bros
Release Date: June 5