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10 Years Ago, Tom Cruise Made an Underrated Sci-Fi War Movie

FromSoftware is notorious among video game fans for its bleak and challenging action RPGs like Bloodborne, Dark Souls, and Elden Ring. Their notoriety stems from the incredible difficulty of their (often inhuman) bosses, and the frustrating reality that success requires multiple deaths and rebirths as players figure out the capabilities and weaknesses of those powerful foes. These elements are so associated with the studio that games by other creators with similar traits have been informally dubbed ‘Souls-like.’ It makes for an intense gaming experience, but one that hasn’t been translated to the big screen… except it kind of has, thanks to Doug Liman’s time-looping action-sci-fi masterpiece Edge of Tomorrow.
Adapting the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow follows reluctant soldier Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) who, upon getting covered by the blood of nigh-victorious alien invaders, reincarnates and resets that bloody day every time he dies. The attackers, called Mimics, are biologically strange, brutal, lightning-quick, and connected by a hive mind that can rewind and reset time upon death or defeat. This allows them to study and defeat human forces until Cage ingests the blood and teams up with the last human to acquire the ability, Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). She walks Cage through his new abilities, and he grows in skill and knowledge with each demise, ultimately defeating a seemingly insurmountable foe. Sound familiar, Souls fans?
Edge of Tomorrow is so specifically thrilling because of the elements it shares with various Souls titles. At the risk of generalizing a bit, you have a protagonist (say, Bloodborne’s Hunter and Major Cage) infused by a cosmically special substance (the blood transfusion/Mimic blood) that allows them to reincarnate. Dying is key to getting stronger and more knowledgeable, and they reincarnate in a hub world outside combat (Hunter’s Dream/a military base).
Of course, this isn’t the first time a great movie showcased a character stuck in a time loop until they learned something important. Time loops have made Phil Conners (Bill Murray) a better human in Groundhog Day, and helped Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) survive a masked killer in Happy Death Day. But typical time-looping protagonists don’t gain their abilities with an infusion of eldritch blood. That’s a FromSoftware thing, as is the presence of an ally (the Plain Doll/Sgt. Vrataski) who walks them through the world and teaches them how to use their special ability. By set-up alone, Edge of Tomorrow might as well be a FromSoftware production.
Beyond having a protagonist gain special rebirth and upgrade powers by ingesting eldritch substances, Edge of Tomorrow feels a little more Souls-like than other time-loop films thanks to its otherworldly villains. FromSoftware titles often have dangerous, inhuman arch-baddies that endanger the protagonist’s entire reality, like Bloodborne’s Great Ones, or Elden Ring’s series of Outer Gods and demigods. Edge of Tomorrow’s Mimics have truly alien biology, and are on the verge of ending humanity thanks to their ability to overcome death and rewind time. They’re a world-ending, cosmic terror-esque threat that reflects FromSoftware much more than, say, Groundhog Day. Bill Murray plays a big jerk, sure, but he’s not the Outer God Of Weathered Narcissism.
Tom Cruise, seen here trying to slog through yet another one of Miyazaki’s poison swamps. Warner Bros. Pictures
Edge of Tomorrow isn’t such a memorable masterpiece of horror-tinged sci-fi action just because it puts these elements on screen, but because it uses them well. The inhuman antagonists are strange and frightening. Cage’s task is nigh impossible, and the stakes are existential. It’s as fun to watch Major Cage have a deadly training montage as it is to watch him grow morally. Emily Blunt’s Sgt. Vrataski is an improvement over the typical game NPC because, despite losing her immortality, she’s still a fleshed-out badass with authority. The time loop aspect creates several challenges and action set-pieces that adeptly balance high-octane action with novel situational comedy. It’s a hard dynamic to get right, and Edge of Tomorrow nails it.
It’s hard to say if a FromSoftware game will ever get a proper film or TV adaptation. There’s some hope, given that Werewolves Within, The Last of Us, and Fallout were adapted with surprising excellence, but the specific details that make Souls games work are hard to translate. Edge of Tomorrow isn’t an adaptation, but it still masters these tricky details. Major Cage reincarnates into a helpful little safe area where he can train between cosmic terror fights. Through his eyes, the movie perfectly captures the growing frustrations of viciously, instantly dying on repeat until, little by little, a protagonist gains enough skill to progress through challenging terrain. It’s perhaps the closest to a big-screen Souls adaptation we’ll likely ever get, which makes us lucky that it’s also a damn fine sci-fi action movie.

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