We talk to the director about his action blockbuster…
The man behind films like SWINGERS, MR & MRS SMITH and THE BOURNE IDENTITY returns to his thriller roots this month with EDGE OF TOMORROW. The film, based on a cult Japanese novel, stars Tom Cruise as a soldier doomed to repeat the same day over and over again while caught up in a war against aliens. Movies.IE met up with the director for a behind the scenes chat…
What was the attraction for you to make such a challenging film?
Doug Liman: My movies are sort of ‘tweeners’. They sort of defy classification. We’re a romantic comedy, we’re an adventure comedy, we are really a classic World War II movie and for me, what I love about a war against aliens is that you get to got back to a simpler time, when people were making movies about World War II, where the enemy was obvious and good and evil were really cleanly divided. The more current wars it’s much more vague and ambiguous. We’re good and the aliens are bad, that’s a nice simple setting in which to go off an explore two characters deep behind enemy lines going through this extraordinary experience as the result of Tom repeating the day.
What would you say to people who compare the film to GROUNDHOG DAY?
DL: They may say that before they see the movie, but I don’t think there’s anybody who’s going to see the movie and say anything other than ‘This is shockingly original’. I am in a really lucky position that Warner Brothers want me to do something that’s shockingly original; they are not pressuring me to make it conform. They have their cookie cutter films, but they also have the films that they expect to stand out and not be like anything else out there.
The exo-suits look like they were incredibly difficult to work with. How bad were they?
DL: Horrible. I had such envy of basically every other movie because actors could move freely from point A to point B. These suits were a nightmare because literally everything is a stunt. Physically moving could require cables and cranes, and then to change direction was incredibly complicated. There was a lot of time there were people in green suits, physically helping them to get up. I wanted to avoid CGI where possible, I wanted it to be real; I wanted them to actually be in the suits of armour and doing the actual stunts. The alien wasn’t there but everything else was real. We really were flipping them through the air and doing pretty insane s**t in those suits.
You are a self-confessed contrarian. Was this desire to do things differently part of the reasoning behind making Tom Cruise’s character a bit of a coward? He has a great cowardly squeal in the film…
DL: Yeah. That was one of the elements that was in the original script, and just because you suddenly get a super power, the morality doesn’t come with it. You are still the same person, in fact you’re just more of who you were before; it just amplifies whatever instincts you had. We were starting with a character who was a coward, and he is just going to become more of a coward. Tom, right from the beginning, was really on board with that. He’s at the point in his career where he is excited to try new things.
How did you go about raising the stake when essentially, you have a lead character who can’t die…
DL: It’s really tricky. Basically, no moments ever repeat in the movie. Even though the day’s events are always the same, he never does the same thing two days in a row, so you always have a sense of forward progression. One of the stakes is he’s going to spend all of eternity in this one battle, which is the worst hell imaginable, especially for a coward, also we start to introduce some real stakes where some things might be for keeps and you can’t keep doing it forever. That was essential to give propulsion to the last 40 minutes of the movie.
What do you think of the BOURNE franchise after you left it?
DL: The first three films, we had mapped out. I am super proud of them and I think Paul Greengrass is a genius director. To be honest, it went off the rails with Tony Gilroy’s version, but we have a great new director coming in for the next one.
EDGE OF TOMORROW is in Irish cinemas from May 30th
Words: Brogen Hayes