Edge Of Tomorrow: Live Die Repeat| 2014
Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is sent in to battle against aliens only to relive his first deadly encounter over and over again, Groundhog Day-style, gradually honing his military skills in Doug Liman’s imaginative sci-fi actioner.
The suits who determine these things scuppered the film’s initial release by replacing the engagingly quirky title of All You Need Is Kill with the most blandly generic and forgettable title imaginable. The DVD release was repackaged under the film’s much snappier tagline Live Die Repeat.
The movie was made in the UK, being the first production to be made at the Leavesden Film Studios in Hertfordshire following its major refurbishment by Warner Bros. Originally Leavesden Aerodrome, an airfield and Rolls Royce airplane engine factory, the complex was first turned into studio space for the 1995 Bond film GoldenEye. The venture proved so successful that Leavesden was rented out to be used for the Harry Potter films. Part of it now houses the series’ sets as The Warner Bros Studio Tour – London.
For Edge Of Tomorrow, nearly 50 sets were built at Leavesden, including part of ‘Heathrow Airport’, as well as the ‘Louvre’ and ’Place de la Concorde’ for the Parisian battle section. Even the ‘Normandy’ beach was built on Leavesden’s back lot.
Cage makes his arrival by helicopter in the centre of London’s Trafalgar Square – only a major Tom Cruise film could be granted such a privilege. On the day of the much-publicised shoot, the Square’s fountains were turned off and nearly a dozen cameras used to capture the one-off landing.
The ‘United Defense Force Headquarters’ to which PR man Cage is taken for a briefing by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) is the UK’s actual Ministry of Defence on Horseguards Avenue, off Whitehall which runs south from Trafalgar Square. For some reason, the two monumental statues flanking the huge doors are digitally removed. This real Ministry is directly alongside the (non-existent) gents' toilet entrance to the 'Ministry of Magic' in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I.
The army base itself is a now-disused army facility at Barton Stacey, southeast of Andover in Hampshire.
The action scenes on the ‘Normandy’ beaches are mainly the Leavesden backlot where, over four months,1,300 tons of sand were shipped in and surrounded by an 1,800-foot green screen to allow for CGI extensions.
But wider shots of the beach were filmed at Saunton Sands, near Braunton on the north coast of Devon – previously used for coastal scenes in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1946 classic A Matter Of Life And Death and Alan Parker’s film of Pink Floyd: The Wall.
Taking a break from the army base, Cage rides his bike for reasons which are not immediately obvious through Horseguards Parade (behind Whitehall in Westminster) and up The Mall, from Admiralty Arch toward Her Maj’s home, Buckingham Palace.
His destination turns out to be the trendy Clerkenwell area to the east, where the pub in which he stops for a pint, and gets called a coward for not fighting, is the Coach and Horses, 26-28 Ray Street, EC1, a traditional boozer turned smart gastropub. When the bar’s power fails, he rushes out onto Ray Street and almost immediately finds himself back in the centre of town on Waterloo Bridge, where he witnesses an alien invasion from the waters of the River Thames.
Incidentally, facing the Coach and Horses entrance on Ray Street runs Back Hill, where you can see the side entrance to St Peter’s Italian Church, which is where George (Bob Hoskins) meets the elusive Cathy in Mona Lisa.