Every week, Mashable presents “Let’s Talk About…”, a Monday-morning look back at the biggest WTF moment from the weekend’s most talked-about new movie. If you haven’t seen the film, be warned: This doesn’t just contain spoilers — it’s ALL spoilers.
This week: Let’s talk about Edge of Tomorrow.
Tom Cruise may have gotten the box office tar knocked out of him by a sickly teen girl, but Edge of Tomorrow is still a rock solid success for the international A-lister.
More importantly, Doug Liman’s crafty and clever film (based on a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and adapted by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez and John-Henry Butterworth) is a terrific bit of blockbuster summer cinema. The action is terrific, the performances have zip and the idea — even if it really is nothing but Groundhog Day Space War — feels fresh.
Edge of Tomorrow is such a delight that we almost feel bad mentioning the aspects we can’t wrap our heads around. And yet, that’s what we’re going to do. Keep in mind, this is the type of movie that could have had dozens and dozens of infuriating story holes and inconsistencies. The fact that we only have five things to gripe about is, unquestionably, a major win for #TeamTomorrow.
1. This guy look familiar?
In a surgical strike of opening exposition, we learn all about the attack of the Mimics and Humanity’s fight for survival. In addition to quick glimpses of known individuals (was that President Hillary Clinton?), we meet three important personalities: General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), the leader of coalition forces, Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) the “Angel of Verdun” and/or “Full Metal Bitch” and Major William Cage (Cruise), the spin doctor tasked with disseminating the coalition’s talking points.
I’ll allow that Bill Paxton’s Sergeant Farrell, warned of Cage’s “desertion” and tricks, would stay stone-faced, but wouldn’t someone at the base say, “Hey, that’s the dude from Meet the Press?”
2. Where the non-white women at?
Emily Blunt is as badass as it comes in Edge of Tomorrow. She uses a helicopter blade as a sword, for heaven’s sake. She’s gorgeous, with shades of Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment in that “worming up from the floor” move we see repeated 600 times, and she’s also quick-witted. We see the gears turning as she and Cruise try to use the time loops the movie to defeat the bad guys.
Elsewhere in the camp is Nance (Charlotte Riley), a crazy-eyed warrior part of Sergeant Farrell’s team. (Think of Amy Winehouse in a mech suit.) Clearly, this is a modern-day army in which women fight alongside men. But weirdly, these are the only two women we see. Like, anywhere. I think maybe a secretary brings Gleeson a folder. It’s odd that a movie that does such a good job of incorporating women into major roles would have such a jarring lack of representation elsewhere.
3. Killing me bluntly
There aren’t multiple timelines in Edge of Tomorrow, there are restarted days: loops where one reality winks out of existence and starts over depending on whether or not Tom Cruise survives.
Emily Blunt’s character knows this because it used to happen to her. (The explanation: if an “alpha,” a rare member of the alien breed, dies, the “omega,” the Queen Bee, will restart the day. If, as the “alpha” dies, it gets its blood on you, you inherit this rebooting ability, too. You lose this ability if you get a blood transfusion, lucky for the Mimics, I suppose.)
Anyway, to Cruise’s character, dying is a hassle (and likely a little painful), but not a big deal. He will always wake up again with a drill sergeant’s boot in his back. Whether or not the Cruise experiencing these loops needs to sleep or eat or even age isn’t really addressed.)
Here’s the thing, though. It is curious to think that Blunt, the only other person who can really understand what is happening, has no qualms about killing Cruise. Not because she should be worried about a court martial, but because she knows that in doing so she is, effectively, erasing her own life.
When Cruise dies, her experience ceases to exist. She’s basically killing herself, because from her point of view, reality will just vanish. A version of herself will live again in the next cycle, and she and Cruise will be able to steer that destiny — but the one right here, right now, will blink out as soon as she pulls that trigger.
She’s a badass, but she’s also a survivor. It’s interesting that she’s so willing to start over each time.
4. Get to the choppah!
At the farmhouse, Cruise tells Blunt that no matter how many times they try, she ends up dead when they fire up the helicopter. Eventually, he decides to go it alone to the dam in Germany, without even approaching her.
I suppose the idea is that near-infinite trial-and-error eventually gets him past that hurdle. Doesn’t quite make sense. If he’s able to do it alone, then why wasn’t he able to do it with Blunt by his side? In fact, wouldn’t it be easier with two fighting bodies?
A possible answer, and one that I like, is that Cruise simply couldn’t take the emotional impact of watching this person he now cares for die over and over again. I’m willing to take that, and I’m also willing to accept that with all his training, Cruise was able to get off the beach by himself — even though at first, he needed Blunt as an extra set of eyes and ears. But the movie does sort of blaze past this point with some quick cutting. My guess is that Liman and company were hoping no one would notice.
5. And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
Edge of Tomorrow is so great that I can hardly get annoyed by the ending. But I don’t think there’s anything in the text that explains what happens other than “Hey, that’s how it works.” Same as Groundhog Day.
Killing an “Alpha” means a restart on the day, and if, by some glitch, you get the blood on yourself, you can do it, too. Okay, sounds good.
Killing an “Omega” means, um, what exactly? That things work out nicely and the good guys win, but with enough vagueness that a sequel could be ready to go.
Maybe this is the perfect ending.