Let’s get this straight: the Tom Cruise film Universal released to theaters a mere four months ago was called Edge of Tomorrow. However, when that same film arrives on DVD this week, it will have been tellingly rebranded as Live Die Repeat— a phrase that was originally used on its promotional materials as a tagline. This might seem confusing until one takes a look at Edge of Tomorrow‘s paltry box office grosses, which stood in sharp contrast to its largely positive critical consensus. Why, the execs likely asked, did a big-budget, sci-fi actioner with a megastar lead and a plum Summer release date flop even when the majority of critics praised it? The trouble, they apparently concurred, was the title.
Indeed, “Edge of Tomorrow” could easily be the name of a first-person-shooter video game–a comparison further invited by the entirety of the film’s marketing campaign, which depicted Cruise decked out in mech-suit body armor slaying hordes of insectoid aliens with a gigantic cyber-gun. While all of those elements are present in the finished product, there is also a more sophisticated plot device at play here; one which proved harder to present to audiences in a neat little package. See, the film takes place in the near future, when a vicious race of aliens known as Mimics has descended upon the earth, invading continental Europe and threatening to spread worldwide. In the midst of the chaos, slick public affairs officer William Cage (Tom Cruise) is railroaded into serving at the front by an embittered general. There, Cage finds himself out of his depth among the grunts, who treat him with disdain for his perceived holier-than-thou attitude. As soon as Cage’s unit is dropped into the combat zone, they are nearly immediately wiped out by the Mimics, the fiercest of whom (known as an Alpha) soon descends upon Cage himself. Through a stroke of luck, Cage manages to shoot the Alpha, only to get sprayed with its acid blood, which sears through his flesh and kills him dead.
From there on out, things get weird. Cage now wakes up back at the base–but it’s the previous morning. He attempts to use his mysterious return as an opportunity to warn people that their invasion will fail, but of course, no one listens to him. As such, the plan proceeds as it did before, and Cage dies yet again. What follows is essentially Groundhog Day in the midst of an alien invasion, with Cage waking up time and time again, fruitlessly attempting to divert the disaster that fate has in store for him. Eventually, he meets up with Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) an infamously skilled soldier, who explains that she too was once on a loop after an encounter with an alpha, but lost her ability after receiving a blood transfusion. Rita decides to train Cage, using each of his lifetimes as a exercise, inching ever-closer to finding the ultimate strategy to defeat the Mimics once and for all. Thus, Live Die Repeat.
Now, whether it was simply the name, or myriad other factors (Cruise fatigue, lack of branded content, et, al.) that spelled box-office doom for Repeat, the fact remains that the film is fun, original, and inventive. The action sequences are pulse-pounding, the creature design is legitimately frightening, and Tom Cruise gives perhaps his least phoned-in performance of the past decade. There’s gravitas and real human drama paired with a shockingly clever core of dark humor. In short, this movie was unjustly ignored, so why not go out and make sure it gets its moment in the sun on DVD and Blu-Ray? Special features include two separate making-of featurettes (one focused on weapon design, they other on the aliens), deleted scenes, featurettes, and a behind-the-scenes short with director Doug Liman.