Posted by: steveonfilm | December 7, 2011

Recently Read: All You Need Is Kill

I just finished reading the screenplay “All You Need Is Kill” by Dante Harper, based on the novel of the same name by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and let me tell you… WOW. Evidently, they’ve change the name of the screenplay to “We Mortals Are” for whatever reason, but that shouldn’t make a difference. This movie is about as awesome as science fiction gets.

Take “Groundhog Day“, add in a little bit of “Source Code“, sprinkle in some “Mobile Suit Gundam“, “Starship Troopers“, and “Battle Los Angeles” and you might be able to have an idea of what this story covers.

I’m not a big sci-fi guy. Typically when I want to casually watch something, sci-fi is the last genre I consider. It wasn’t always this way. I used to love sci-fi when I was younger. But like any genre, eventually when you plow through content you get past all the good stuff and into the crap. Spend enough time there and you get jaded. If you’re jaded long enough you leave, and sometimes don’t come back.

I occasionally wander back into the sci-fi realm, and when I find something I like I consume it with a hungry passion. LOST was sci-fi, regardless of what anyone else tells you. I loved that show. I got into Mobile Suit Gundam and have watched several of the series from the various Gundam universes. So I still keep the antenna out, listening, hoping that something worthy will pop our from all the noise… “All You Need Is Kill” was one of those signals that I honed in on.

“Kill” is sci-fi, plain and simple. There’s no getting around that. People will turn away from the story simply because of that genre, which is a shame, because much like “The Matrix”, “Kill” deals with things far beyond the normal traps of your typical sci-fi fare. Sure, there are aliens, robots, fighting, and a love story, but the presentation of such is so unique that several times I felt myself going, “I’ve never see THIS before!”

We’ve seen a few movies that use the “time loop” concept, “Source Code” and “Groundhog Day” are two of the most famous, and ones many people have seen. “Kill” embraces this idea front and center and even uses the term “loop” in the story itself. The main character pushes himself to figure out why he’s “looping” and uses the time to go from weak new recruit to grizzled veteran badass. Those around him still see the same scrawny grunt, and watch in awe as he leaps past and tears through the enemy before them like a possessed God of war.

One of the challenges of using the concept of becoming “stronger” as the loops go on is that your character is still physically the same. If you’re weak to start, you’re weak to end. The mind progresses, but the body doesn’t. This is fine in “Groundhog Day” since Phil doesn’t need to do any feats of strength. In “Source Code”, Colter is in the military, so it’s easy to explain why he can physically accomplish what he needs to. But in “Kill” the main character can’t. He’ll NEVER grow physically. Never get stronger. Never get faster. So how does one progress as a warrior? … exojacket. A form of armor that removes the need to by physically fit, or even strong in stature.

“Kill” takes the mind over matter concept quite a bit. It plays with the idea of what “strength” even is. The xojacket serves as a metaphor for many concepts of combat. And you bet your ass they will make for some badass toys when the time comes. I couldn’t help but grin when a specific exojacket was introduced as being red in color, contrasting significantly from the rest of the suits in the foray of battle. I couldn’t help but think Char Aznable. Some of you will get that reference, for the rest… tis a shame.

I’ve been tinkering with a sci-fi story idea for a while and I’m glad I’ve read “Kill.” It served as a prime example of how to do sci-fi right. I’ve read that Tom Cruise is now attached to this project, and I assume in the staring role, which is odd. Right now the main character is in his early 20s. Cruise is obviously not. For this to work there will need to be some heavy rewrites, for several characters, so I’m concerned how that might change the story. The current version of “Kill” follows many of the traditional Japanese sci-fi stores of a young man stumbling into the role of hero (see almost all robot anime/manga), so maybe the changes will be for cultural reasons. The only thing I know is that if they don’t screw this up, they’ve got a kick ass story to make a kick ass movie with. I plan on being there opening day.

Until next time, keep writing!


  1. I heard they already rewrote it for him. Can you review that one if you come across it?

    • I’m sure it’s been rewritten for a while.

      If I come across a newer version of the script, I’ll certainly do a write up for you.

      I’m eager to see the changes as well.

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