"the film is about as high concept as a sci-fi can get"
One often wonders how Hollywood producers come up with new projects. Lately it feels more and more like they simply throw two or three older films in a blender and see what comes out. The Breakfast Club meets Apollo 13? It could work. Edge of Tomorrow sees Tom Cruise channelling the spirit of Bill Murray as he repeatedly storms the beaches of Spielberg's Normandy and accidentally wanders onto the set of Starship Troopers in the process. Helmed by director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), the film is about as high concept as a sci-fi can get.
Cruise plays William Cage, an American army major inexperienced in combat who is really just a glorified public relations officer. The Earth has been invaded by aliens who have spread across west and central Europe, causing the battle map to look conspicuously like the Western Front. The humans plan to take back Europe and on the eve of D-Day, by some plot contrivance, Cage is sent to fight at the front alongside hardened veteran Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). The invasion is a bloodbath and Cage doesn't last long, but instead of disappearing into the abyss he finds that death simply leads him back to the previous morning, Groundhog Day style.
This high concept turns into an incredibly generic space shooter into something that is actually quite watchable, for a while at least. Cage gains extra life after extra life and is able to eventually work his way around the battlefield by memory alone, acting like an accomplished video gamer. Off the field his exploits are occasionally broadly comedic which staves off the monotony for a bit, it comes though, and all of a sudden the film's tedium begins to grate as the contrived concept ties itself in knots.
Cruise and Blunt share very little chemistry, which is a shame as every single Hollywood writer seems insistent on forcing their leads together into an inevitable relationship. It is, at times, painful to watch as Cruise 'charms' her and somehow 'wins her heart' by doing almost nothing, barely interacting with her beyond lines of basic plot exposition.
If you leave your brain at the door, Edge of Tomorrow might just about be strong enough to make it across the finish line under its own steam. But stop for a minute to examine any one of the film's flimsy ideas and its plausibility will come crumbling down. This is often the way when time travel is involved, but films like Looper and the Star Trek reboot work because they have an edge and move at a blistering pace. Edge of Tomorrow lacks this and falls apart in the final third when it throws its infinite life concept out the window and drowns in a hail of gunfire.
While being far from unenjoyable, Edge of Tomorrow feels pretty uninspired and serves very little purpose. A high concept film that gives up on itself half way through, and ends up feeling a little too gimmicky.