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Edge of Tomorrow movie review: all his yesterdays

Edge of Tomorrow green light

A witty, clever, character-driven bit of science fiction wonderfulness, full of suspense, surprise, tension, and an unexpected poignancy.
I’m “biast” (pro): love sci-fi, was intrigued by what I saw at a footage reveal

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Oh, hooray. I am a happy geek today. Science fiction has made me happy. Because director Doug Liman has given us exactly the kind of sci-fi action drama we were hoping for — expecting, even — from the indie filmmaker who snuck up on the action genre and booted it into the 21st century with 2002’s The Bourne Identity. Edge of Tomorrow is, unsurprisingly, smart, cleverly playing with clichés it knows we’re familiar with and even goofing on its own storytelling. It is also, surprisingly, funny, an unanticipated treat since it’s set during an alien invasion that humanity seemingly cannot throw off. It seems to do lots of stuff wrong, and yet it all works beautifully.

First “wrong” thing: Our hero, William Cage, is no hero. (At least not initially.) He’s a coward, even in the face of the possible end of human life on Earth, and worse, he’s a sniveling weasel about it. He wears the uniform of a major in the U.S. Army, but he’s no soldier: he volunteered to do PR when he lost his ad agency in the wake of the invasion. Cage’s backstory includes some of the many intriguing hints the film drops about what’s happening on planet Earth that are never fully elaborated upon (and don’t need to be); I like — well, am transfixed by, in a sort of horrifying way — the rather misanthropic notion that even a war for the survival of our species that has already consumed Europe needs some spin every once in a while. We see some of Cage’s smarm as he appears in bits of the montage of TV news reports that opens the film, and he himself embodies a sort of untruth. For Cage is charming, movie-star handsome Tom Cruise (Oblivion, Jack Reacher) in a smashing uniform, the very image of inspiring soldierly spirit when that is, in fact, nothing but image.

Cage’s weaseling we witness when he turns it on General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson: The Smurfs 2, Safe House), head of the “United Defense Force” that is about to launch a 21st-century version of D-Day with an invasion from England of alien-held France. His weaseling ends badly; I won’t spoil how, because the scene is a little marvel of witty writing in which character drives plot (which can be said of the whole script, by Christopher McQuarrie [Jack the Giant Slayer, Jack Reacher], Jez Butterworth [The Last Legion] and John-Henry Butterworth). And so Cage ends up on the front line of that invasion.

Second “wrong” thing: Like Cage himself, we get dumped right into the middle of this war. This alien invasion movie isn’t an alien invasion movie. We see only snippets of the aliens’ arrival and initial attacks, in that opening news montage, and we don’t ever know — and never learn — what they want with us or our planet. (Another witty little scene deals explicitly with this question, and comes up with an excellent answer.)

So what is Edge of Tomorrow, then? It looks very much like a videogame movie, in some respects, because what happens to Cage almost instantly on that invasion battlefield is this: He gets killed by one of the slithering aliens (they’re called Mimics). And then he “wakes up” the previous morning, just as he has arrived at the invasion’s forward base at Heathrow Airport, having accidentally absorbed the aliens’ ability to do a limited sort of mental time travel. As he lives this day over and over and over again, his actions are like those of a game: he gets better at using the suit of powered armor the human soldiers wear, and gets better at using the weapons (he doesn’t even know how to turn off the safety on his gun on the first iteration of that day), and accumulates knowledge that helps him get a little further each time. He “plays” that battle multiple times, and every time he dies — which is every day — he jumps back to that “saved” moment on the tarmac at Heathrow. Soon he has teamed up with fellow soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt: The Last Legion, The Last Legion), who knows what is happening to Cage because it happened to her. In fact, it’s the reason why she has become the renowned “Angel of Verdun” — aka “Full Metal Bitch” to her awed comrades — because she lived that battle over and over again until she won it for the human forces.

Unlike movies actually based on videogames, though, this one never feels like we’re watching someone play a game we can never join. Even as the day loops repeatedly through the same events, there’s still a sense that things are moving forward… and, indeed, they are, for with Vrataski’s knowledge, she and Cage are able to set a military goal that the foresight he is amassing can help them achieve. Sometimes this is supremely suspenseful, as when Cage knows stuff that Vrataski can never know: she is not reliving this day and has to be approached cold by Cage and reconvinced, again and again and again, of the truth of his predicament. (Unlike Cage, during subsequent iterations we viewers get to skip over the problems he has already learned to solve. He has to get past those barriers each and every time: there’s no saving the game at a later point for him.) And sometimes we don’t have that knowledge, either, because we don’t witness every iteration of Cage’s day. There is much that is deeply poignant here, as Cage gets to know Vrataski in a way that she can never get to know him, and as we discover that she experienced a similar such “relationship” at Verdun; this is made all the more poignant by how the film does not linger on it, just accepts it as a tragic side effect of this war. There is an astonishing level of tension in events that repeat themselves, and that tension gets ratcheted up in the finale in a wonderfully ingenious way.

What Edge of Tomorrow ends up being about is this: perception. How we see ourselves and how the world sees us are two very different things, and the difference is a wider gulf for Cage and Vrataski than for the rest of us. She is lauded as a hero thanks to a bizarre accident of fate that no one will ever know about, an adulation that, it is hinted, she doesn’t care for. And that officer’s uniform that commands such respect for Cage is ironic in a completely diametrical way at the end of the film than it was at the beginning. Heroism, for them, is more a matter of “you have no damn idea what I’ve been through” than it has ever been for any heroes ever before.

US/Canada release date: Jun 06 2014 | UK release date: May 30 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated HOFAH (holding out for a hero)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate violence, threat, infrequent strong language)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes
  • avi

    great review.
    I love Sci FI, so I will definitely be checking this out.

  • Froborr

    Oh good! This was the only thing in the Days of Future Past previews that looked remotely interesting–it sounds pretty decent!

  • http://www.kingnewbs.com/ KingNewbs

    Fuck yes. I’m blowing my mind up with anticipation for this one! I even grabbed the eBook and read the first chapter because I couldn’t help myself!

  • Oracle Mun

    Oh, my interest is definitely piqued.

  • AndyK

    Great review- but you’ve listed Smurfs2 and Safe House as Brendan Gleeson’s two most prominent movies….how can I take you seriously?!??!

  • Overflight

    Woohoo! Just saw it and I have to thank you MaryAnn for bringing this movie to my attention. If it wasn’t for you, I would have pegged this for another generic Tom Cruise Fights Alien Squid film (my mother coined that term on the way out from the film).

    Sure, it’s not going to win any awards but it’s VERY well executed. If you’re going to make a big loud action blockbuster make something like THIS, Hollywood. Cruise was pretty believable in his character arc from cowardly rookie to hardened hero and Vrataski has basically “See Hollywood? THIS is how you write a strong female protagonist”. I never thought Cruise was stealing her thunder, it was a partnership through and through.

    And equally awesome is how we FINALLY get an alien war movie NOT steeped in Rah Rah America Jingojism (to steal MaryAnn’s term this time). THIS is what Battle Los Angeles should have been.

    SPOILERS

    Minus points: the ending is EXACTLY what I and what probably 90% of people who are fans of this sort of time rewind concept expected. Hell, you might even predict the ending from the PREMISE ALONE…and yes, it’s what you expect. Followed by the most inappropriate end credits song in cinema history.

    END SPOILERS

    But yeah, heavily recommended. Don’t see it in IMAX 3D, though. It adds NOTHING IMHO.

    Aside: With Cruise sporting a navy trenchcoat and repeated death followed by gasping awakening, anyone else think that you could call this “Captain Jack Harkness: The Movie”?

  • Pablo Martin Podhorzer

    Watch this one. Whatever you think of the reviewer, as an avid cinephile with very refined tastes, this one was an OK blockbuster that draws circles over all those comic-book adaptations and big robot thingies. Closer to Duncan Jones than to Michael Bay or the fascist Nolan.

  • LaSargenta

    I asked about that some months ago…that is a widget that matches a name up to the most recent movies they’ve been in that she reviews. She doesn’t get to choose the movies and editing it is dodgy. It is not intended to be about their most important movies or the ones with their biggest roles.

  • Bluejay

    as an avid cinephile with very refined tastes

    And so modest, too. :-)

  • Thomas Higgins

    Loved the review – you seem to be one of the few reviewers who picked up on the film being basically a video game movie, and since it’s not based on any mainline franchise also being the best one ever made.

    Anyway, I saw this on Saturday night at the Imax in Glasgow. I loved it. It’s Tom Cruise’s best film since Jerry McGuire, at the very least. His acting is superb – mainly because he stops being Tom Cruise and starts being William Cage – when do you ever see Tom Cruise so terrified as Cage is in his first battle? He didn’t even manage that as Ron Kovic during Born on the Fourth of July. And that guy got shot in the spine and paralyzed.

    Emily Blunt is equally as good. She is utterly believable as a frontline super soldier because her character has been through the same training from hell on the battlefield that Cage has, and the way the film shows us that rather than tells us is brilliant.

    I think I understood the ending – though how to explain it is a bit tricky. And spoilery. It’s a kind of keep what you kill scenario – in Cage’s first death, he gains the power of the Alpha to reboot time back one day. In his last, during the ending, he gets the Omega’s power from its blood and gets the ability to reboot it two. Since he basically becomes the Omega, the one he kills can stay dead – that’s his new save point. He doesn’t have to repeat the process leading up to that point again – he’s in Free Play mode at the end of the story campaign. That’s how all the characters we meet during the film that previously got killed repeatedly, including Rita, are alive again.

    As far as I am concerned, they earned their happy ending. Robbing them of that would have been base.

    And yeah, that ending song sucked. I don’t like John Newman at the best of times but I think I know why they chose it. The clue is in the original pop video for the song. Which sucked.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I’m not sure what writer William F. Nolan has done to deserve being called a fascist…

  • Pablo Martin Podhorzer

    I am not American. False modesty is not a virtue.

  • Bluejay

    And totally cool with laughing at himself, too! What a guy!

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I don’t know where you got the idea that a widget is responsible for this. I wish! No, I hand-code this. I DO choose, and what the heck is dodgy about it?

    But yes, it is the two most recent movies from an actor/director/whoever that I have reviewed. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether they’re mentioned in those previous reviews.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Who says those citations about about “prominent” anything?

  • LaSargenta

    I’m sorry, I misunderstood the conversation then that was in answer to my comment at http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2013/09/world-review-sound-voice.html#comment-1042772371

    I thought it was a script because of Dr. Rocketscience’s answer and no correction of his statement in your response. Also, a script seemed plausible as it would automate something for you (anything to make publishing a bit more efficient is helpful) The use of ‘dodgy’ was a result of (1) my assumption that a script was doing it and (2) the observation that it sometimes wasn’t linking to reviews when someone had even been mentioned.

    I do apologise for it reading then like your choices were dodgy. (I am sometimes confused by them, though. Otoh, it makes me do a little more reading on a film to see how someone is connected to it.)

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I guess I didn’t read his comment closely enough.

    As I think I have mentioned many times before, I am not a programmer. I don’t know how to write scripts. I wish I knew more about javascript and php and other shit like that, because it would mean I could be doing more useful stuff here (like showing ads to nonsubscribers while subscribers get an ad-free experience).

    And I don’t mean this as a criticism of your comment, but dammit, I think I’ve mastered a shit-ton enough of non-writing, non-film-related expertise that other professional critics don’t have to deal with. (AO Scott doesn’t have to worry about the CSS that displays his reviews.) I would so love to be able not to have to be trying to figuring out programming and SEO and analytics and just concentrate on writing.

  • LaSargenta

    The level of publishing professionalism on this site (and all the previous versions) is stellar. I came and stayed for the writing, but have been consistently impressed with how the site itself flows and looks.

  • AA

    Huh. Well, I’ve loved Emily Blunt ever since the Jane Austen Club, but I haven’t seen a TC movie in a looong time, but you really make me want to see this, MaryAnn!

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    She’s so fantastic in this, in a very different kind of role than she’s done before.

  • RogerBW

    The trailers made it look to me as though Rita would be the Magical Negro, telling William how to be the hero but never doing anything herself. I’m very glad this is not the case.

  • David

    I know Tom Cruise gets a lot of shit but I do genuinely like him as an actor. There is a legitimate reason why he is still headlining movies at age 50. That said, I wasn’t really interested in seeing this one in the theaters because it looked like “Oblivion 2″ (Oblivion being “the one where Tom Cruise fights himself” -Walter Chaw). However, I may check it out now. There are three sites I go to to decide if I want to see a movie: this one, James Berardinelli’s reelviews, and Film Freak Central. I Also used to read Roger Ebert’s reviews, RIP.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Cruise will be 52 next month. And he looks a helluva lot younger. He’s either got a painting in an attic somewhere, or there’s something to that Scientology crap.

    This is way better than *Oblivion.* And *Oblivion* was better than it deserved to be because Cruise has that genuine movie-star It that makes him so watchable.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Most definitely not the case.

  • David

    It’s the Scientology, that’s the reason that joining their church is so expensive.

    FYI, A major reason that I became a paying contributor is your willingness to respond to comments.

  • Overflight

    That was one thing that bugged me about this movie: as badly burned as he was and as desperate for warm bodies as they were, would someone of his age be sent to the front lines in a war? This is an open question to anyone familiar with the military, I’m genuinely curious.

  • Overflight

    No, as I mentioned above, one of the things I really like about this movie is that they are clearly working together, as in together together, not Hollywood together (in which the female acts mostly as eye candy and/or damsel in distress). Vrataski is the actual soldier with experience while Cage is stuck with this power and they make the best of it.

  • Overflight

    Maybe they could get a lot less flak if they just started hawking crap on infomercials.

    “With our patented Clear treatments, we can get rid of your nasty thetans and make you look decades younger! All for the low low price of 500 dollars per month for the next billion years! Satisfaction guaranteed* *Lack of satisfaction means you are an SP and will be ostracized for life”

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I think the movie makes it clear that it’s some special circumstances that get Cage thrown onto the front lines. :->

  • Michael

    hmm i need some help understanding the ending pretty please, I saw it last night (perth, Australia) and loved it overall! Needless to say….. ****************MAJOR SPOILER ALERT*******************************

    Right, so the ‘final act’ as i see it. Cage and rita finally get the device out of the safe. This is maybe two or three hours after he was sent to the army base for ‘desertion’. He did this hundreds of times before but finally gets it and escapes. This time, he gets shot and bleeds a lot/is apprehended. Blood transfusion ensues and he can no longer reset. Now, if he dies he stays dead. It’s now the NIGHT before the beach invasion is due. Cage and Rita successfully head to paris at night with the J team and manage to kill the Omega. They literally all die in the process, and it’s still nighttime (so presumably like very early morning on the day of the beach invasion). Cage as he is floating underwater dying, absorbs some omega blood and (hurray!) he is thankfully time warped backwards. HERE’S WHERE I’M CONFUSED. His consciousness is sent back a full 24 hours to the start of the day before the invasion – he’s about to walk into the generals office and say ‘f off I’m not going to the beach invasion’ and kick the whole process off. Obviously he’s just killed the omega and woken up going ‘wow’ i’m alive and holy moley it’s the day before – yay!. BUT, then it cuts to the a news feed with the general saying that they’ve detected an energy signal from paris (omega’s death) and it looks like the mimics have all died, but we have still to confirm this. HOWEVER this occurs in the FUTURE, and Cage got sent back into THE PAST. Pleeeeaaaaassseeeee help me understand this? Sorry this is a long and not eloquently written comment, I’m not very good at writing. However I’m genuinely puzzled by the ending and in my mind it doesn’t fit into the film logic, even accepting all it’s rules and suspending disbelief etc. I’ve obviously misunderstood a crucial part, and am wondering if someone could point out where I’ve gone wrong!.

    Thanks SO MUCH in advance,
    Michael
    mikalmaynard@gmail.com

  • http://www.kingnewbs.com/ KingNewbs

    She listed his two most recent films that she reviewed, not his “most prominent” ones, bro. Don’t be this guy. It’s not to late to change!

  • http://www.kingnewbs.com/ KingNewbs

    And… Loved it! Hooray for Doug Liman. He really is an action movie wizard.

  • Fred

    That’s the silly part, isn’t it? That’s what I’ve been trying to tell my family. I’m somewhat annoyed that they all “understood” it, and I don’t. They keep insisting that of course the Omega is dead, and keep on telling me that didn’t I see the Omega get blown up? Yeah, of course I did…but for whatever reason the reset was triggered; the fact is it was triggered, and time is supposed to be indescriminate – that is, everything in its proper place in such time (Omega being alive at that timeline; hence, he should stay alive at that timeline, putting aside the death that occurred in the future). I tried doing slow motion in backwards to illustrate the time travel going back in time. I only made a fool of myself trying to explain it to them. At least, I’m not the only one who sees it that way…now, it’s you, me, my gf, and a few others.

    Here are some possible explanations:
    1. Omega is “outside” the bounderies of time, killing him at one point would kill him permanently at any point of time.
    2. The consciousness, persona, soul, or whatever crap of Omega was absorbed by Cage, and when it went back in time, it caused a paradox of some sort. That caused the non-existence of the Omega in that timeline as it is now in Cage when they merged.

    There’s nothing in the story to support those theories though. Regardless, the ending would still be silly. I’d be happy to hear from others though to clarify the same. So confused.

  • Tonio Kruger

    And I was fairly certain that she would turn out to be a meter maid but fortunately that was not the case…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, given the fact that the movie was based on a Japanese novel whose title — All You Need Is Kill — sounds like a parody of a famous Beatles song title, that was a valid assumption…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Charles Darwin: Actually, this whole movie doesn’t make sense from an evolutionary viewpoint. Why would aliens with such an obvious genetic weakness be able to come so close to conquering another world?

    Friedrich Nietzsche: Perhaps the director was inspired by my famous quote “Whatever kills you makes you stronger.”

    Charles Darwin: You mean “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” don’t you?

    Friedrich Nietzsche: Well, true. That’s what I originally wrote. But ever since that Kelly Clarkson song came out a few years back, I prefer the new version.

  • Tonio Kruger

    After all the fuss that has been made about the scarcity of women and racial minorities in the Star Wars movies, it seems funny that nobody on this forum seems particularly bothered by the albification of this movie’s source material. After all, the main character in the novel that inspired this movie was a Japanese character. Yet when Hollywood adapted it, he suddenly became a white American. This isn’t the first time a nonwhite character has been leucified in a critically praised science fiction movie but it is getting tiresome.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    The explosion occurs in the future… to an entity that has the power to manipulate time. I don’t see how there’s any problem with this. The destruction of the Omega echoes back a few days, and Cage’s consciousness is thrown back to the earliest moment in which the explosion registers.

    We know so little about the aliens and the Omega’s power that we cannot rule this out as unreasonable. And it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

    The only question now is: Is Cage manages to avoid a blood transfusion for the rest of his life, when he dies in, say, 40 years, will he wake up again on that helicopter about to land in Trafalgar Square? Should he go get some blood just to be on the safe side?

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I presume the action in the book also didn’t take place in Europe.

    The main character didn’t so much become white (though that is the upshot, of course) but become Tom Cruise. Would this movie have been made with an unknown Japanese actor? Unlikely.

    Yes, it’s an issue that Hollywood’s products are so white and male (as I have complained many times!) but I don’t think this is the same as the Star Wars thing. The situation is very different.

  • Fred

    *Major Spoilers*
    Fair enough. I guess one cannot expect much logic from time travel film. You just have to take it as it is, no?

    But still, they could have opted to provide a far better conclusion than “if the entity is killed in the future, (even if it happened in the future), it will echo back to remain dead even in the past.” No explanation at all, or even just a small hint of it. How convenient, now everyone is alive and the enemy is dead. Not that I hate happy endings; it’s just that what happened happened so quickly without any effort for any explanation that it left me scratching in the head. It doesn’t have to be specific. Just like how they were able to explain how the reset works, a solid concept. Now we just have to rely on “we know little about them, anything can happen”.

    I really like the movie by the way.

  • LaSargenta

    Mind you, I’ll bet Masaharu Fukuyama could have done a good job with this role, too. Not known like Cruise is, but he would have been good.

  • Fred

    I understand your concern. But personally, I thought the change is very much understandable. It is made by Hollywood, hence, it would most likely be starred by a Hollywood actor. The change of nationality for the protagonist would have little or minimal impact to the plot after all. If this was a Mao Zedong movie, and yet they still casted Tom Cruise, that on the other hand might be irksome. Besides, a well-known actor would most likely add to the movie’s marketability. And oh, I’m asian and I don’t mind at all.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Do you think Tom Cruise reads as 50-something? He looks here like a 40-something actor playing a 30-something character. (At least in the trailers; haven’t seen the movie yet.)

  • Overflight

    They pretty much ignore his age throughout the film. The only hint we get about it is when he mentions losing “his” ad agency during the invasion but even so, that phrase can still be interpreted both as “the agency I owned” and “the agency I worked for”. Either way, I guess his character would be at the very least in his early to mid 30s which would be the limit of believably for the situation I described.

    EDIT: He is also a Major in the U.S. Army which from what I can gather online, are around 32-33 on average.

  • LJS

    I “think” it just resets by up to one day. So 40 years later, he’d die and wake up a morning earlier. This leads to a different question — what if he had managed to survive a full day after waking up or slept in the meantime — could he change his re-set condition?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No, that doesn’t follow the rules the movie works so hard to establish. The time travel ability of the Mimics doesn’t alter the rules of cause and effect beyond giving particular entities memories of alternate timelines, starting from a certain point. From that point on, everything still has to happen. In the film’s ending, the Omega is destroyed earlier than it happened in the last timeline Cage remembers. That’s an effect, but the movie doesn’t give us a cause.

    No, it’s not unreasonable that destroying the Omega could trigger a time travel effect that is entirely different from killing an Alpha. But it wasn’t necessary. Cage now knows exactly where to attack. I can even buy that he wakes up in the helicopter, since this second time he cam into contact with the alien time travel goo, it was earlier in the day than it was the first time*. In fact, the earlier reset points towards this ending, as he’s resetting to a point in time where the General doesn’t already think Cage is a total asshole.

    This isn’t a move breaking problem, but it is a sort of dangling plot hole, as it were.

    * Alternatively, it could be because, since the invasion gets cancelled before Cage’s meeting with the General, Cage now no longer get’s tazed. But that explanation suffers the same problem: Cage always jumped back into the same timeline, then changed it.

  • michael

    That is an interesting question, I’d definitely have a blood transfusion just to be safe!. I can see where you’re coming from re we don’t know much about the aliens and i guess can’t rule anything out. But I feel that it does a bit of a dis-service to the work the film did to lay out it’s own time logic etc. Ah wells! Still a great film and thanks for the reply :)

    I guess for me, the question still remains – how are the aliens (the omega) defeated already when cage goes back a day before he defeated them?

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I don’t think we can assume that. Clearly some of Cage’s iterations last longer than others, yet he always wakes back up at the same point.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I’m sure there are tons of actors who could have done a great job with the role. But that’s another issue.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    As someone who knows more about time and time travel than us once said: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Different universe. In this one, time is linear cause-and-effect… until the ending… for some reason.

    Or alternatively, then where the hell is the Doctor?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    This is true. Cage’s reset point is set when he first encounters the Alpha, and doesn’t change after that. He moves back something close to 24 hours (we never really see a clock, so it’s hard to say). The reset point does seem to be linked to a moment when he regains consciousness. He then lives anywhere from just a few hours (we do see him get killed before he even reaches Rita) to… well, certainly more than 24 hours if he gets to the helicopter or beyond.

    In principle that means that whenever he dies next, be it that day or 40 years later, he should wake up back in the helicopter. Unless there are yet more rules that we don’t know about.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Or else the death of the Omega is a radically different cause.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    No, Cage still won the war. But he cannot take *any* credit for it! No one will *ever* know what he did. (He might be able to convince Rita of the truth of his story — because she will have still had her looping day — but having no experience herself of him not being a huge jerk, she may doubt some of the more heroic aspects of his story.)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Do you think we are meant to lament the fate of poor William Cage? I think he got his happy ending: dead Mimics, live Rita.

  • Tonio Kruger

    And I’m sure Michelle Rodriguez would have done a great job with Ms. Blunt’s role. Alas, we’ll never know.

  • Tonio Kruger

    For some reason, the situation is always different whenever you question default attitudes towards race and ethnicity in the arts. Yet, like default attitudes toward gender and sexual orientation, nothing ever changes if you don’t at least question such attitudes.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Spoiler for Donnie Darko.

    For some reason, Cage’s situation reminds me of Donnie Darko. He too was presented as an unsung hero, and yet given his tendency to commit violent actions at the request of an entity who turns to be someone who has little reason to wish Darko well, he very easily could have turned out to be something worse.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    I never question such attitudes?

  • Tonio Kruger

    I did not mean you specifically, MaryAnn. You’re a lot more liberal on this topic than most people and at times you’re even more liberal than me. I meant the type of you referenced in slogans like “Only you can prevent forest fires” and such.

    But I do often find it both amusing and dismaying how often less-than-liberal attitudes toward race and gender are championed on otherwise liberal forums.

    For example, a lot of online libs have criticized The Big Bang Theory for its depiction of nerds but few such folk seem to have issues with the way 2 Broke Girls portrays Asians. And I am tempted to bring up Mad Men again but since that show actually seems to have improved in that area according to blogger Lynn Lee of Lylee’s Blog, I’ll take the Fifth on that subject for now — though it did not make me a happy camper to see how many people deliberately misunderstood my point about not wanting to see another TV show about the 1960s in which people like the ones I grew up with were virtually invisible. Then again a lot of people have deliberately misunderstood your post about being tired of seeing movies that were always centered around men.

  • Danielm80

    A Google search for “2 broke girls racist” beings up pages and pages of entries. Maybe the liberals you’re talking to are just too intelligent to watch the show. I’ve heard quite a few complaints about the show’s portrayal of…well, everyone, not just Asians.

  • Bluejay

    Saw it. Loved it.

    The premise of this film reminded me very strongly of the novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which, if you haven’t read it yet, MAJ (or anyone), I’d highly recommend. Except the character’s reset point is back to birth, and he has to live out his entire life again, knowing everything about his previous lives, before he can get himself in position to save the world. Very fun and provocative and not a slog at all (for the reader).

    http://io9.com/first-fifteen-lives-of-harry-august-is-a-masterful-lite-1562310481

    Between this film and this novel and the latest X-Men movie, is there some kind of storytelling trend of mental time-traveling back into younger bodies in earlier times? I approve.

  • Bluejay

    I didn’t know about the existence of 2 Broke Girls until you mentioned it just now. For that matter, I haven’t seen Mad Men either, beyond the first two episodes.

    Please don’t be amused or dismayed at me for complaining only about the things I know about. :-)

  • Johnathan Henning

    In case it hasn’t been mentioned, the ending of the movie is one of those cases, rare in Hollywood, where it is so simple and makes perfect sense, that everyone thinks it can’t be THAT simple.
    First, they make it clear that humans may be the aliens only weakness because (and this is not explicitly stated but implied over and over) we can somehow hack into their time manipulation network.
    Notice, when Cage kills the Alpha the first time, there is something different in every reset timeline from that point. What is it?
    Answer: that Alpha NEVER shows up again.
    The reason for this is that from the perspective of the time manipulation system, Cage became the Alpha. That’s why the system automatically resets every time he dies just like it would every other time an Alpha dies. Also, this is why Cage can use the doc’s transponder from the General’s office to find the Omega. This has shades of WWZ’s statement that the organism disguises its weaknesses as a strength.
    So, later Cage loses his connection via the temporally unstable blood he absorbed from the Alpha so he cannot reset time again. However, this happens in a reset timeline long before the invasion takes place.
    After that, he, Rita and J Squad raid the Louvre and he kills the Omega just before sunrise the day of the invasion. Therefore, two things happen when he is infected by the Omega’s time manipulation fluid/blood.
    First, obviously, he is sent back a day earlier, but this time that means just before sunrise the day before when he is arriving in London on the helicopter.
    Second, just like with the Alpha, he now “replaces” the Omega in the reset timeline. Therefore, the moment he wakes up, the Omega is wiped from existence by the very time manipulation system it uses.
    And so, the Mimics all lose their brain at that moment as well.
    Make sense?

  • Bluejay

    That does make sense, actually.

    I may have missed this, but do you know why they’re called Mimics? I didn’t notice them trying to imitate anything particularly well.

  • Johnathan Henning

    From the novel, they mimicked starfish physiology when they first showed up, but from the movie it is because they “mimic” the strategies of the forces they fight and even “anticipate” them. This is established in one line from the news reports that open the movie, so it is really easy to miss.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It does make sense, but…
    1) That’s not simple at all. That’s actually quite complicated. The simple ending is they blow up the Omega, Cage and Rita die, permanently, The End. The simple version of what they wanted is Cage wakes up early enough to talk the General into nuking Paris, The End.
    2) The movie really needed line of dialog about how the Alpha Cage killed was gone and would never again appear. When the mechanic/scientist comment on how only something like 1 in 6 million Mimics is an Alpha, i didn’t expect to see it again because of odds.
    3) We’re also getting into a lot of possible “hidden rules” for Mimic time travel in order to explain other plot hiccups. for instance: why don’t the Mimics get better at hunting Cage, and why do they need to lure him so far from the battle? Possible “hidden rule” answer: Cage has control of the time travelling for that particular 24 hour block of time, so no other Alphas can reset until after the moment Cage died the first time. Again, you see, it all starts getting more complicated.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Just realized something: I always like Noah Taylor in everything I see him in. And I just discovered he played Locke on Game of Thrones. So not only can he play an adorable nerd, he does a pretty menacing villain as well.

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Just downloaded the sample to my Kindle. Hadn’t heard of it — thanks for the rec!

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Hey, he played *Hitler* (in *Max*). So, yeah. :->

    Not enough Noah Taylor in this flick.

  • Beowulf

    Since it was filmed in England, the casting of British* actors is hardly surprising.
    *Or Irish, like Gleeson.

  • michael

    I think I have to agree with Dr. Rocketscience here. I went to see the movie again with a couple of friends after I originally posted here, because i still wasn’t happy with the answers i got/didn’t make sense :P

    Mary-ann has said before “The explosion occurs in the future… to an entity that has the power to
    manipulate time. I don’t see how there’s any problem with this” in regards to the omega’s death, and yeah that’s fair enough. BUT, it’s not SATISFYING. Why? Because the movie is smart, treats the audience as such, and it sets up some rules for its universe that we understand and follow throughout the movie. Then it breaks them at the end for the sake of a ‘happy’ ending. As Rocketscience says, sure, there could be ‘hidden rules’ that explain the movie. BUT THERE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE. Why? Because the rules we are given make consistent sense right up to the end. I watched the scene where cage, rita and the Dr have their initial meeting like a hawk. The one where it lays down the rules and explains to cage slash the audience, what’s going on. And it makes sense. All they needed to add here was “btw if you kill the omega at any point, we *think* it will stay dead in all pasts and futures because it exists outside of time and space”. OR “we’re not sure what will happen if we kill the omega, but we think it will die everywhere”. And that would’ve worked.

    As MaryAnn says in her review, “He “plays” that battle multiple times, and every time he dies — which
    is every day — he jumps back to that “saved” moment on the tarmac at
    Heathrow.”

    Great! There are clear cause and effect rules even accepting time travel and it’s “quirks”. See the thing is, this movie doesn’t work if cause and effect are taken out of the movie – because then cage wont know how to ‘progress’ forwards if things are moved around or changed from one reset to the next.

    Then, cue the ending where it does precisely this. In fact, I noticed a further mistake in the ending upon a second watching (groan). Cage wakes up in the helicopter at the end, having been sent back by the Omega’s blood. Fine, i can also accept Jonathon Henning’s that he is now the Omega himself kind of based on absorbing the blood. Here’s the further mistake I noticed upon second watching.
    1) initially, Cage flies into london by helicopter on say, a Monday morning. And he’s asleep. We learn the invasion is due to happen the next morning (call it tuesday), he goes off and badmouths the general etc etc etc. Shit happens for the rest of the movie.
    2)Cage resets one last time, following touching the omega blood. He gets sent back to Monday morning in the helicopter and he’s asleep. Hops out of the helicopter. The VERY next scene we see, there’s an announcement on the TV screens that ‘something’ has emitted an energy signal in paris (the audience KNOWS it’s the omegas death). BUT, it’s still Monday morning AND this isn’t due to occur until the early hours of tuesday morning. Why? Cause and mother-fluffing effect rules that the movie follows for the entire duration up till then!

    So, not only did Cage reset to a time before the Omega was killed and watched an announcement of it being dead, (flaw one) but he also watched it on the wrong day (flaw two). It should’ve been announced on Tuesday morning (because that’s when he killed it, maybe a couple of hours before the invasion was due) , but it was a Monday. DIRECTLY after this scene, we see a shot of J squad doing a PT running session (where cage got squished by a car). This always happened on the Monday, so we know that it is still the day before the invasion was scheduled to occur.

    Anyways, that’s my rant done. Haha my friends also had a problem with the ending of the film, so I’m confident I’m not alone. next step is to try and stalk the screenwriter i guess and try and find out his take on the ending :P

    p.s totally joining this site now as a paid member :)

    Cheers,
    Michael
    mikalmaynard@gmail.com

  • http://www.flickfilosopher.com/ MaryAnn Johanson

    Ah, but the detection of the explosion in Paris appears to happen at the very moment that Cage wakes up on the helicopter again. As if the destruction of the Omega resonated backward in time and manifested itself in both those ways!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Without watching it again, I’m not sure that’s true. IIRC, Cage wakes up just a few minutes before he lands, and Brigham is making the announcement just as he gets off the helicopter. That seems like too little time for Brigham to be prepared to make any such announcement or for reports of division moving west from Russia with no resistance to both come arrive and be confirmed. That should have taken several hours, at least. I realize we’re operating on “movie time”, and that we’re talking about the 3 or 4 minutes of the film. But it seems like either we strain timeline credibility (in a movie that’s literally all about the timeline), or we further open up the question about just what happened. I think Michael uses the right word when he describes it as unsatisfying.

  • Johnathan Henning

    It is established that the reset is one day before Cage’s infection with the blood and death.
    The Omega was killed just BEFORE Sunrise on the day of the invasion and that was when its blood infused Cage and reset on his death.
    When Cage woke up, it was way AFTER Sunrise but still in the morning the day before the invasion. So Cage was sent back to a point where he was asleep on the helicopter. He could’ve been sleeping for an hour or more in the new timeline before he woke up.
    So, the UDF had plenty of time to notice the mimics were inert.
    As mentioned earlier, the moment Cage appears in the new timeline, he erases the existence of the creature whose blood infected him. First, the Alpha disappeared and in the end, the Omega disappeared the moment everything reset.

  • Johnathan Henning

    The simplicity of the explanation is based on the question.
    1. Why does Cage get sent back to an earlier reset point at the end?
    A: He gets sent back one day before he got infused by the Omega’s blood and died in the Louvre (just before Sunrise), just like he was sent back one day before he died on the beach invasion (Mid-day) when he first killed the Alpha.
    2. Why does the Omega die when Cage wakes up on the Helicopter in the final reset even though we saw him kill it the morning of the next day?
    A: Cage replaces whatever entity whose blood he;s covered in when he resets upon death. He replaced the Alpha in the first timeline and replaces the Omega in the final timeline reset. That’s why it vanishes once he resets.
    The other questions are complications you’re adding to the film. Nothing that happens in the film requires those questions to be answered.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    1. Why does Cage get sent back to an earlier reset point at the end?A: He gets sent back one day before he got infused by the Omega’s blood and died in the Louvre (just before Sunrise), just like he was sent back one day before he died on the beach invasion (Mid-day) when he first killed the Alpha.

    This follows the rules clearly established, by action and dialog, in the film.

    2. Why does the Omega die when Cage wakes up on the Helicopter in the final reset even though we saw him kill it the morning of the next day?A: Cage replaces whatever entity whose blood he;s covered in when he resets upon death. He replaced the Alpha in the first timeline and replaces the Omega in the final timeline reset. That’s why it vanishes once he resets.

    This does not. We don’t see, nor are we told, what happened to the Alpha that Cage killed. It’s “disappearance” is more easily explained by the “only one in six million” line.

    You may well be right. But your explanation is based on supposition or facts not in evidence. I would have preferred if the movie either provided that evidence, or chose a conclusion based on what it had shown us previously.

  • Johnathan Henning

    Ah, but it is not more easily explained by the rarity of Alphas. Remember, the day is reset and should play out exactly as before. The Alpha appeared on the first day of the invasion at the point where J Squad is slaughtered. Cage and Rita spend hundreds of days up and down the beach in that position so they should have encountered that Alpha at some point. Rarity has nothing to do with it.
    Also, the fact that the transponder only works on a live Alpha makes it pretty clear that as far as the time manipulation system is concerned, Cage has now replaced that Alpha as the potential reset point.
    However, the rarity of Alphas does explain why no other Alpha is killed to reset the day since none of the others are anywhere near the fighting so Cage is always more likely to die before another one will.
    Even without anyone explicitly stating that Cage replaced the Alpha, it’s strongly implied and all the events that occur in the movie – especially the death/disappearance of the Omega at the end – support this explanation.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Again, my issue is that the movie never shows us, nor tells us, that they never see that Alpha again. According to your theory (which, again, I don’t necessarily think is wrong) that’s a significant fact. Understanding the ending hinges on it.

    If you don’t like “rarity” as an explanation (even though it is specifically supported by dialog), how about “active avoidance”?* Cage and Rita are trying to get off the beach, as quickly as possible. Alphas are presented as the biggest, baddest Mimics out there**. Killing regular Mimics is hard enough for them.

    Oh man, the less said about the transponder, the better. Of all the fantasy tropes this story employs – and there are a lot – that one is the most blatant. It’s nothing more than a Magic Talisman, held by the Warlord, that will provide the needed plot information, because Frequencies! I don’t have any real problem with the thing. It does it’s job. But I’m not going to invoke it any further than that.

    Unless you’re writing in the mystery genre, implications (and I have my doubts about the strength here) are no substitute for exposition. If they were afraid of “giving away the ending”, they needn’t be, since the goal wasn’t survival, it was victory. The ending here, where Cage succeeds without having to sacrifice himself or Rita, through no action of his own I might add, is an unnecessary bonus.

    * That actually is something else the script should have addressed. They never even discussed hunting down that Alpha to try and give the time travel ability to Rita.

    ** This is kind of suspect. The Mimics need the Alphas to die in order to provide reconnaissance. That’s the entire advantage the Mimics have. So why would they be so rare and tough?

  • Johnathan Henning

    Again, though, none of those questions are plot holes. They are just questions you want answers to – nothing that happens in the movie actually requires those questions to be answered.
    The only thing that happens in the movie that needed any sort of explanation is that Cage wakes up earlier and the Omega dies at that point.
    The answers above are perfectly consistent with what happens in the movie. Your follow up questions are about stuff that doesn’t happen in the movie, and therefore does not need explanation. You’re simply working hard to find something to criticize because you wanted them to spell everything out.

  • Johnathan Henning

    For example, you want to know why they don’t look for the Alpha to give Rita the time reset power. The answer of course is that it doesn’t exist and they know that. They just don’t say it. I can make up any answer I want because it’s not in the movie just like you can make up any question you want about anything that is not in the movie.
    Or I could say, they did look for the Alpha many times, but never found it, so it was edited out to streamline the story. and on and on and on.
    We can spend forever discussing things that didn’t happen in the movie or why they didn’t happen a different way, and I can give made up answers for every one of those questions, but that’s got nothing to do with the actual movie that played out on screen.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    No, you’re right, the movie works right up until the last, oh 3-5 minutes. That’s what makes it frustrating. When the grenades went off, I was satisfied with the conclusion. When Cage reawoke, I was ok with “Oh, Cage gets another chance to do this without dying. Good for him.” When we find out the Omega is already dead, I left the theater thinking, “Wait, what? How does that work?”

    Look, you seem to think that I think you’re wrong. I don’t. However, I don’t think the movie is as clear as you seem to think it is. And i think your interpretation is based on a piece of evidence that is only weakly implied when it could have been made explicit.

    You’re simply working hard to find something to criticize because you wanted them to spell everything out.

    Look, man, I’m not assigning any dark motivations to you here. I’d appreciate the same courtesy. And no, I don’t think that asking for the world-building to be complete enough to justify your resolution is unfair.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    For example, you want to know why they don’t look for the Alpha to give Rita the time reset power.

    That’s actually just an aside. Hence putting it in as a footnote.

    The answer of course is that it doesn’t exist and they know that. They just don’t say it.

    But how do they know that? And why not say so?

    it was edited out to streamline the story.

    Possibly. Legitimate editing choices are also legitimate points of criticism.

  • Johnathan Henning

    Yeah, I don’t think you are wrong for asking those questions, but just pointing out that they really go outside the story the movie told. Maybe the fact they never perfectly say “you replaced the Alpha” does leave it unclear that he replaced the Alpha, but since that one “assumption” feeds into everything that happens, do they have to say it?
    The thing that interests me – for an example of “outside the story” thinking – are all the resets before Cage took the Alpha’s power.
    Think about this. How do the Mimics know when and where the UDF is landing? Skinner says “they weren’t even supposed to know we were coming.”
    Of course, the reason is likely that during the first timeline, the Omega planted the Alphas up and down the coastline and waited for an attack to kill one of them.
    The Omega wants a perfect outcome, so you have to think that it had been resetting the timeline multiple times before Cage switched places with his Alpha.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    do they have to say it?

    I hope it will come as no surprise when I say, yeah, it kinda does. If they say it*, then the ending flows logically from the narrative. Without, the movie appears to violate it’s own rules of causality: Cage resets to a different set of events, where before he had not.

    It’s clear the Mimics have seen the battle before, yes. Multiple Alphas are a possibility, even a likelihood from a tactical standpoint, but not a requirement. It could have been just the one Alpha. Cage certainly dies at various points in the timeline. (Of course, if your theory is correct, then it does have to be multiple Alphas, as Cage’s Alpha would never be there to reset.)

    Now, this opens up another question: if there are multiple Alphas on the beach during the invasion, why does the Omega need to lure Cage all the way to Germany? Surely there was somewhere closer to the beach that the Omega could set a trap. This isn’t an important question, mind. It doesn’t really matter where the Omega lures him, and putting it far away allows for the farmhouse scene. But “because the plot needs it to happen this way” is not the best possible motivation.

    *And they don’t have to say much. They don’t have to say, “The Alpha you stole the power from dies the instant you wake up.” All they have to say is, “Something happens to keep that Alpha from appearing ever again.”

  • Johnathan Henning

    I’m thinking more along these lines.
    The very first invasion wave:
    The Omega has an Alpha planted every 150 kilometers on the Coast. When the first combat occurs, an Alpha is killed and the Omega has one day to reform its locations. Possibly a few resets and the Omega has a perfect model of what the invasion wave will look like. However, there would also be no chance of encountering more than two Alphas on the same beach.
    This is when Cage steals the power – he’s already gone through a ton of these battles, but, like everyone else, he has no idea time reset.
    This time, however, because the Alpha is changing its actions based on the previous timeline, it encounters Cage, and the s**t hits the fan because this time, the Omega did not intend to pass along its powers.
    So it doesn’t have a clue where Cage is. It just knows there is an Alpha on that particular beach out there constantly getting killed and it is now a human. It could send a bunch of Alphas to that beach, but if any one of them got killed, it would reset time again – so that’s a risk. Also, it has no way of knowing which of these thousands of humans is the new Alpha.
    It picks a projection point where it could isolate the rogue Alpha, Cage, and kill it with a bleeding wound. If Cage gets a blood transfusion OR if he bleeds to death, he still loses the power, because it’s what’s in his blood that resets time.
    The use of the Dam as a decoy point simply ensures that the Alpha he encounters could be confident that Cage is the correct target and would have the best chance dispatching him correctly. Only Cage would be able to reach it. No other human could.
    Of course, it’s not the best storytelling as Cage is just lucky to drown before he bleeds to death. But, at the same time, this is the Omega’s first attempt. It doesn’t have the benefit of reset after reset to get it just right.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    Oh my god thank you SO much for this. First clear sensible explanation I’ve read of the ending. I can now fully enjoy my memories this film without nagging doubts about the ending :D

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  • Tonio Kruger

    SPOILERS for Edge of Tomorrow ……………………………………………………..

    Now that I have seen the movie, one obvious explanation comes to mind:

    The last sequence was Cage’s vision of the afterlife. Thus he was able to see people who were obviously killed and meet up with a female character whose nickname — if you choose to take it literally — gives the whole plot away.

    Then again, if you don’t like that theory, I have others.

  • twobitcoder

    I’ll tell you why it’s unreasonable. Because, when all of the people who died in that final timeline were alive again in the past, 2 days prior, that proves that it was a complete time travel event, not a manipulation of time back two days. If the Omega had the power to “explode” backwards and forwards in time a couple days and affect things that seem to violate causality, then all of the people in J company who died would still be dead, not revived, oblivious of what had happened. The ending was a farce, completely ignoring cause-effect, EVEN if the Omega did have that ability. Bollocks I say. The ending feels contrived. Maybe test audience said his death was depressing so they threw together that ridiculous throwback. Pfft. It ruined the movie for me. On top of that, the director assumes we’re too ignorant as an audience to notice. Insulting and stupid.