Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow 2014
It may come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of sci-fi movies. Yes, technically most superhero movies can also be lumped into the catch-all science fiction category as the very idea of a person with superhuman abilities whether alien, mutation, or technological is in its very essence science fiction. But I am just as much a fan of the general aliens & technology versions of sci-fi that I don’t nearly as often get to cover on this site. In fact, I didn’t catch any of the sci-fi movies that came out last year even though many were considered to be bad-to-mediocre. But I had heard a lot of great things about Edge of Tomorrow, and I am also a huge fan of the concept of a time loop, so much so that I even wrote a player-created mission for the now defunct City of Heroes MMO based around the time loop concept. And since this was based on an illustrated novel which was also adapted into a manga both under the title All You Need is Kill I thought it was a perfect excuse to actually watch it, albeit quite a bit later than most who actually gave it a chance. And you know what? Everyone was right about this movie. It takes the concept of the time loop and really gets the chance to explore things in a way that it hasn’t exactly been done before, while still covering all the usual bases in an entertaining fashion. It’s an excellent movie and it’s a shame that it didn’t translate as well into box office dollars.
One thing about this movie that did surprise me a bit is the fact that it is set merely in the near future. There is some advanced technology, namely the exo suits, though it is fairly well explained that they are fairly untested technology attributed to their single victory in the war so far. The war itself is against an alien invasion that came in through a crashed asteroid before quickly spreading throughout the countries. This film takes place during a last ditch final battle where the remaining countries have banded together and invested everything in an army suited in these exo-suits in order to combat the aliens, referred to as mimics. Tom Cruise plays Major Bill Cage, a military PR guy who for some reason gets on the wrong side of a general and is ordered to join the ranks of the infantry on the front lines of the upcoming battle. Inexperience, yet extremely lucky, he kills one of the more advanced aliens along with himself which is the catalyst to his time loop. He then ends up teaming up with the experienced soldier played by Emily Blunt who is the only person who believes him because it happened to her in the past.
What I really enjoyed about this movie aside from the whole time loop aspect, which is done very well by the way, is the great character arc of Cruise’s Cage. At the start of the movie, he is a cowardly but lucky public relations officer who has never really even seen combat before and has no idea how to use these combat suits. But through the course of the movie, he essentially learns what it means to be a soldier. It’s not just all about how he learns combat skills, but he also spends time learning about the other soldiers even though most of that happens on the days that the audience doesn’t get to see. He learns about human nature, of the general, of his squad, of Emily Blunt’s Rita among others. There is of course a love story at hand as well, but it’s never really front and center, instead it’s something that grows in the background of what in Cage’s mind spans several years spending every day with her in training, in combat, as well as the occasional downtime through the drive and the farmhouse.
In fact, Rita’s character herself is a great boon to this film, as it gives him an anchor point in each day, or technically each period of two days. She is the one person that he can turn to and without any elaborate pretense is able to explain his situation to her and she will immediately believe him. This really is an element to the story that makes it a bit more unique in the countless time loop stories that have been explored, though much more common in television than in movies. It also makes the moment where Cage attempts to abandon her a much more important part of the story as well as his development as a character.
One other thing that I have to talk about briefly is the concept surrounding the ending. Obviously what follows is a spoiler, but when Cage gains this ability from the Alpha it’s explained that there’s something in their blood which is transmitted to Cage and connects him to the single Omega which has the ability to time travel and when an Alpha is critically damaged it goes back in time for a short period of time and brings the Alphas consciousness with it to allow them to correct their mistake which got them damaged in the first place. Except now that Cage is tapped into this system, he is the one that is controlling it, not the Omega. Because if the Omega was the one in control then it would simply not reset the timeline. Towards the end of the movie Cage loses his Alpha blood and it’s set up to be this “one final time”, but when he does defeat the Omega he is once again imbued with the alien’s blood, but this time it is the Omega’s blood which makes sense that not only would he also be able to control, but that it would be able to create a larger leap back in time. There is also the unspoken assumption that when he gains the time travel ability of the Alpha, that Alpha is kicked out of the loop which is why the Omega is also kicked out of the loop when its power is transferred to Cage and thus eliminates the mimics’ one big advantage in their battles. In the end, I thought that the movie had the right balance of action, as well as a surprising amount of humor through Cage’s earlier cowardly persona as well as some of his accidental surprise deaths. The mimics themselves look amazing, and Cage and Rita have a great chemistry with each other without forcing a romance down the audience’s throats. I enjoyed it more than Snowpiercer which I saw earlier this year and with Guardians of the Galaxy coming out later this summer, I think that this will be remembered as a great year for sci-fi. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.