Director Doug Liman brings us a masterful adaptation in the truest sense of the word.
Time is a precious commodity in any film, but especially so in one that spends the majority of its run recycling scenes and settings as the primary means of advancing its story. There are many risks associated with this narrative technique, the most obvious of which is your audience growing bored of stale settings before your story has come full circle. Edge of Tomorrow, however, laughs boldly in the face of these concerns and masterfully exploits every last moment of screen time spent with its audience.
Based on a Japanese light novel—Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill—the film takes place in a near-future Earth setting during a war with an unknown alien species. Sound familiar? Don’t worry. Most of the story movement here centers around our protagonist, who makes a habit of dying, only to wake up at the start of his final day amongst the living. The final product is oozing with originality and boasts a pace that begins steadily enough, but quickly takes off at a dead sprint that it maintains for its entire duration.
There is no time for hand-holding here.
Narrative ground is covered quickly and intelligently, and director Doug Liman works under the assumption his audience is sharp enough to keep up, filling in large time gaps with precisely measured dialogue and action. The audience doesn’t need to relive this day in full every single time our protagonist does—so we don’t. It’s that simple. The presentation is quick, but always leaves viewers with just enough information to follow what’s playing out before them. Liman truly takes full advantage of this story’s relatively complex structure, developing the plot in a fashion entirely unique to his work. Many changes are made from the source material, but they are almost unanimously for the better, and there are an equal number of homages—such as the Americanization of protagonist William Cage’s name from the original’s Keiji Kiriya.