Among the many Tom Cruise films that have wowed audiences, too few recent features place him in a role offering vulnerability. He may be the underdog, but rarely is he truly out of his depth as master spy Ethan Hunt (Mission: Impossible series) or as ex-solider Jack Reacher (Jack Reacher films). Perhaps that’s why his role as U.S Army Major William Cage tickles me as much as it does. Not only is Cruise playing someone out of their depth, he’s playing someone so used to applying their charm to get out of sticky situations that being sent to die during a military incursion against literal alien forces seems like delicious come-uppance, and that’s just the start of the film! If you enjoy the Doug Liman-directed Edge of Tomorrow, an adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill, as much as I do, you’ll delight to know that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing a new 4K UHD edition with high dynamic range (HDR) and a Dolby Atmos audio mix, plus all the legacy bonus features.
In 2015, an alien force arrived on Earth and began an invasion, conquering most of Europe. Now, in 2020, the United Defense Force (UDF) has developed mech-suits to give humanity a fighting chance as they make their stand against the creatures, dubbed “mimics,” on the beaches of France. Wanting to capture the action, UDF General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) orders U.S. Army Major Cage to go with the troops as they make landfall. Seeing his role in marketing for the Army as a non-combative one, he argues with the General and finds himself knocked unconscious, only to wake up branded a deserter and sent to the frontlines as a Private. There, he sees the carnage up close as his unit is torn apart by the invading forces. Before he himself is killed, he manages to kill a blue Alpha, getting covered in its acidic blood. But his story isn’t over as he wakes up the day before the invasion, alive and back on base. This isn’t a bad dream, something in the blood changed Cage so that he lives the same day over and over, restarting every time he dies. With help from UDF Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), Cage trains to use his new abilities to become the killer this war needs and maybe turn the tide of battle.
Time and distance can impact how a film plays with its audience. Though the action and performances from the cast are still resonant, the themes within play differently with more adult consideration. When we meet Major Cage, it’s just after a promotional rundown video that catches the audience up on historical events before switching to an explanation of the mech-suits and intro of Vrataski. This video is intended to highlight the might of the military and the opportunity humanity has to push back against the alien force. This is all part of Cage’s specialty, selling goods of war to increase positive belief in military success while keeping himself as far from the frontlines as possible. He himself is a coward, using his brief time in ROTC to keep himself as far from combat as possible and, it’s this desperate desire to avoid war that prompts him to threaten the general, getting him sent to the front as a result. What plays differently now than before is that the audience is told how much of a coward he is and we get to see it present itself in a variety of forms, even as he trains over and over to become — more or less — a super soldier. The shift in perception comes from his first use of the mech-suits and seeing his unit use them: they are clunky, not exactly intuitive, prone to malfunction with deadly consequences, and more experimental armor than proper weapon. One can’t help but think of the money made by war mongers (both within the military and out) creating tools to enrich themselves as the world burns. Cage himself tried to take advantage of this, eagerly sending others to die so that he could live as comfortably as possible. This makes his first death poetic, unable to get help from the unit that derides him, unable to protect himself because he doesn’t know how to use the equipment, viewed as a living dead man before he even reaches the beach. Cage is fodder for the war machine, a fate made even crueler when he melds with the alien forces’ time reversion ability. As Bill Paxton’s Master Sergeant Farell would proclaim, Cage is forged into a sharp weapon, the tip of the spear, by the crucible of war; tempered into a killing machine through countless deaths and sacrifices. There’s a poetry in his situation that’s harder to notice amid the tightly choreographed action set pieces and (mostly) exacting narrative.
But you didn’t come to this remaster review for a rumination on unethical militarist processes, you want to know how the film looks and sounds in this upgraded home release.
The picture itself is upgraded to 4K UHD with HDR. The process should translate to a more color-balanced, natural look for this sci-fi actioner. For a film like this, the natural elements are cleaner, more detailed, and far more grounded. When Cage wakes up at the facility before heading to the front, there’re more defined details in his uniform. Similarly, you can note more attributes of the mech-suit when he wears it. Another notable scene is when Cage and Vrataski make it to the farmhouse and he’s bandaging her wound: the HDR does a great job of amplifying the feel of the cinematography so that there’s no loss to the intimacy of the moment amid a particularly tense interpersonal sequence. The downside to the greater detail comes in the night sequences wherein the HDR process offering more natural coloring makes characters and action harder to see. However, the light we do get in those sequences (like in the sequence when Cage uses a red flare as he heads for the Omega solo and falls in the mimics’ trap) is less harsh and more striking. The red in the flare, for example, fills the screen beautifully, being less abrasive to the eye, permeating the action with a stronger sense of danger. Notably, the blacks of the 4K UHD edition blend wonderfully with the bars at the top and bottom, often creating a greater sense of expanse in a scene even though that’s not the intention.
On the audio portion of the remaster, I can’t speak to the Atmos track as I don’t have the setup for it. However, the Dolby DTS-MA 5.1 still came through clear and balanced. My favorite moments were on the battlefield as the surround sound really came into play. Liman shot these sequences perfectly, making the audience feel like they were in the shit with the rest of J-Squad. When surround wasn’t as present, the audio remained well-balanced and immersive, with the dialogue coming through distinctly on the center channel and deft audio support coming from the left/right front speakers. This translated to little adjustment of the volume to accommodate for increased noise or hushed voices.
Something to keep in mind: while the film is a 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack, including the 4K UHD disc, a Blu-ray disc, and a digital code, the Blu-ray seems to be the same as the previous Blu-ray home release and both it and the digital code include all the legacy bonus features. There is nothing new to celebrate this new edition and the 4K disc itself doesn’t include any bonus features of any kind. Making the choice to pick this up comes down to whether or not you want to upgrade the copy you already have or picking it up because it’s not in your collection at all. That there’s nothing else new, other than the upgraded picture and sound, means that the choice comes down to immediate preference.
Even if I can’t forgive the ridiculousness of the final moments of Edge of Tomorrow (reset to well before he gets sent to the frontlines just so all his friends and Vrataski can live, come on), everything leading up to that ending still rules and does so even harder with the improved picture and sound. Considering that, folks interested in the upgrade will come away pleased with the choice.
Edge of Tomorrow Legacy Features:
- Operation Downfall – Adrenaline Cut
- Storming The Beach
- Weapons Of The Future
- Creatures Not Of This World
- On The Edge With Doug Liman
- Deleted Scenes
For more information, head to the official Edge of Tomorrow WB webpage.
Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack and digital July 5th, 2022.