Live Die Repeat


‘…this is a model of how effective a summer blockbuster can be…’

I’m once again going with the alternative title here, Doug Liman’s sci-fi epic was released as Edge of Tomorrow, which doesn’t really tell much of the story. Landing somehow as a mix between Groundhog Day’s time-travel philosophising and the scarifying excitements of James Cameron’s Aliens, this is a model of how effective a summer blockbuster can be; the only big surprise is that audiences didn’t take to this movie in the way they’ve embraced many less accomplished films.

Marketing man Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) finds that his advertising firm goes to the wall when an alien outbreak changes the world; it’s fun to think of this as an off-brand sequel to Jerry Maguire. Cage is co-opted to travel with the first wave of attack as allied forces attempt to take back Europe from the marauding hordes; it’s a death sentence, and Cage is killed within 5 minutes. But he’s quickly re-spawned, like a character in a video game, yet the source material, All You Need Is Kill was actually based on a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Cage comes to realise that he’s doomed to live the same day over and over again, but his contact with yesterday’s hero, the Angel of Verdun, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) expands his thinking. Rather than accept his fate, Cage wriggles on the hook, training, making contacts, exploring the world-gone-mad that traps him like a fly in the bottle. And eventually, he finds his way off the deadly beach on which he seemed doomed to eternal death, and joins Rita in finding a way to stop the alien conquest.

Liman is one of the best action directors out there, kicking off the Jason Bourne franchise as well as helming Mr and Mrs Smith, a star vehicle that was made for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. That film features a memorable quiet scene amongst the carnage, where Pitt offers Jolie a broken glass of orange juice as respite between kick-ass fights. It’s a nice moment that suggests a higher metaphorical function for the whole film, with assassin rivalry offering a parallel for domestic relationships. Here, Liman manages to repeat a similar trick; Cage and Vrataski learn from each other, and face existential choices as they try and figure how how they might both survive. Cruise and Blunt are big stars, and get to do big star things here; wearing mech-suits, killing aliens, but also suggesting a growing, developing relationship. Cruise does particularly well to suggest how a shallow, cowardly character might come to better himself, and they two actors give the film much-needed heart and soul. Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson also register in small but telling roles.

Live. Die. Repeat. Plays like a video game, allowing multiple attempts at every hurdle. Only the final big-boss level disappoints; shorn of their powers, the final confrontation between man and alien is fairly rote compared to the rest of a highly engaging movie. A sequel as been mooted, but it’ll be hard to top the multi-level action offered by this superior summer shoot-‘em up.


Leave a Reply
  1. I have only seen this movie once, but I definitely enjoyed it back when I saw it; and I wished that I would have seen it in a movie theater.

    It is a shame that not as many people have watched this movie, my brother GC and I had a good time & a few laughs watching it, and Tom Cruise & Emily Blunt did a good job.

    Thank you for sharing your review.

    • I did see this at the movies, and it still looks good at home. Good to hear that you and your brother enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment!

  2. I’m a sucker for time loop movies, so I was immediately won over by Edge of Tomorrow. Easily one of my all time favorite Tom Cruise movies (not named Mission: Impossible). Emily Blunt was als very good. I’m practically begging for that sequel at this point.

    • Agreed; no idea what the sequel would be like, but you’ve still got great characters, a great concept and a well-realised world, so it should be worth pushing on with this as a franchise…

  3. I love this movie, but as you say, surprising it didn’t do better. I mean, even if you hate Tom Cruise you get to watch him get squished and go ‘eeee!’ 😉

  4. This very well could be a time when directors started getting inspiration from video games, but I’m probably wrong and it occurred before this? Anyways, from what I remembered this was a pretty cool film and I approve your four star rating ( even though you didn’t ask for my approval. 🙃 )

    • Got a review of Total Recall coming this week, and noting that it resembles video game formats that didn’t exist back in 1990! Live Die Repeat takes things a lot further up to date in a Call of Duty way…

  5. I loved Paxton’s Drill Sergeant role in this film. For my money he stole the show. The concept of these aliens made fighting them seem entirely hopeless. I figured they’d need a bio weapon! :p

    • Paxton perfect casting for this, riffing on his Aliens role. And yes, the aliens were pretty bad-ass, no reasoning with these guys!

  6. Before I gush, “All You Need Is Kill” is technically a Light Novel, not a full on novel.

    I was pretty MEH about the light novel. I was waiting for it to be turned into an anime, but considering how this movie turned out, I’ll take the movie.

    I loved this. Pure and simple. I didn’t think I was going to based on my reaction to the book, but after my second viewing, I realized I was hooked. This is another of those few select movies that I’ll mindlessly turn on and let play in the background multiple times a year, and still enjoy it. Cruise is as charismatic as ever, Blunt is appropriately deadly yet lovely and the aliens are shown enough times that you realize how nasty they are. For me, the penultimate time when it becomes obvious they only have one more chance really ramped up the tension. And I was ok with the ending. I’m a sucker for a happy ending and this definitely was.

  7. Yeah, I think you nailed it with “plays like a video game.” The producers called it Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day, which I also thought on point. Not bad for the action though. Audiences may have just grown tired of Cruise.

    • And yet they don’t seem tired of the MI films….this is way better that War of the Worlds or many other similar types. And Liman’s games with time have been great from Go onwards…

  8. It’s baffling isn’t it? How some films just seem to not really be embraced by an audience? I loved this film. I think it’s very clever, and I also like the way it’s set up. In the beginning it almost seems to be a comedy, but soon things grow much darker. The suits were great, the effects were great, and overall pretty much everything in this film was great. Except, granted, as you say the ending which could have been a bit better. All in all though I enjoyed this film a lot and loved your post for it. Think I might include it for the reader’s choice in the poll for sci-fi month in December😊😊

Leave a Reply