When I heard that this film was based on a Japanese novel, I sought it out before I saw the film. It’s a dark tale about a young, aimless Japanese recruit who’s on a newbie on the front lines in a fight for survival against an unstoppable alien force. And, when he kills the wrong alien (quite by accident), he rewinds to the previous day, and has to fight again. And again. It’s basically Groundhog Day with aliens and butt-kicking. (It also has a much better title than this film: All You Need Is Kill.)
Since the fight with the aliens is global in scope, it makes as much sense as anything to replace the young Japanese kid with a fifty-year-old white guy, but one with a really nice smile. I wondered how the screenwriter was going to put Tom Cruise on the front line, and they chose a smart way to do it. He plays a relatively high-ranking “soldier”, but his whole role is to play the cheerleading PR guy who gets new recruits into the army. He manages to anger the general in charge of a new invasion so drastically, he gets “demoted” and dumped in with the cannon fodder.
So, right there, they introduce a new dramatic angle that wasn’t in the book, as Cruise spends a fair amount of time trying to convince the people around him that he shouldn’t even be there. And it also generates a situation where anything crazy he says (for example, “I’m repeating every day in a time loop”) just sounds like him trying to get out of battle. A lot of this plays way funnier than you’d expect from a film with this premise.
Cruise comes to the realization that another soldier, played by Emily Blunt, has had the same time-loop thing happen to her in a previous battle. So, she understands what he’s going through… but it’s not happening to her, so he has to reset every day with her as well. Amazingly, for a film with a time travel premise, they don’t really drop the ball on the logistics.
The original book has a somewhat darker ending than the film, which is more Hollywood… but they at least present the ending with a reasonable explanation of how it all works out. I don’t want to spoil either medium, because they’re both worth experiencing.
Tom Cruise was in Edge of Tomorrow with Emily Blunt. Emily Blunt was in…