Monday, 2 June 2014

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Previous Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Next Review: Maleficent

Although it is based on the widely-praised 2004 Japanese sci-fi light novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow is a film that reminds you of Groundhog Day (1993), Source Code (2011), Starship Troopers (1997) and Elysium (2013) due to the similarities of the plot elements. Therefore, comparisons are inevitable for some viewers for an alien invasion war film that features time loops and powered exoskeleton suits. But safely to say, the film managed to stay fresh and entertain the audience with enough humour, action and suspense from start to finish.

The story is about an untrained US military officer, Major William Cage, who's just a spokesperson for the army in the United Defence Force with no battlefield experience whatsoever. He was demoted to private following an act of cowardice and being forcefully sent to the battlefield by the general to fight a losing war against the "Mimics" - invading aliens with the ability to efficiently respond to Earth's military combat strategies.

When Cage is sent to the front lines, he managed to kill a large and extremely rare Alpha Mimic by sheer luck but winds up dead. However, due to his exposure to the Alpha mimic's blood, Cage gains the time-loop ability to relive the same day over and over again each time he dies. Remembering what's going to happen when and where, Cage eventually managed to save Rita, a.k.a. 'Full Metal Bitch' who once had the same ability as him. With Rita's help, Cage's skill as a soldier grows in each subsequent time loop and they work together as a team to find a way to end the war. That's roughly how the story goes.

Despite its time-loop plot device, the film never feels tedious or repetitive due to the occasional humour that comes with Cage's time-looping experience. The repeated scenes were shot at different angles and Cage's response to the situation is different each time that it feels fresh even when he relives his day again. The relationship between Cage and Rita is nicely developed and the constant reintroduction between them is swiftly handled. It's surprisingly funny to see Rita shoots Cage for his countless failures during training and he needs to wake up, find her and get shot again and again. There's also another ridiculously funny scene where members of his squad find him for a fight due to his absence during the training, but Cage remembered the moves well that he's managed to avoid them even with his eyes closed. As the film progresses, the audience gets to see Cage's transition from a coward officer to a well-trained battlefield soldier.

The visual effects in the film are top notch and the battle scenes with the Mimics were shot in a fast-paced manner that keeps you engaged at all times. The exoskeleton battle suits are fully utilised in battle, equipped with many weapons to fight against the Mimics. As an actor, Tom Cruise has always been committed to his role in films. Once again, he's giving his best performance as the lead and doing all the stunts by himself, which is quite impressive (take note, he's 51). On the other hand, Emily Blunt is a complete badass in her role as Rita, especially when she swings her big sword to kill several Mimics at a time. The origin, function and intention of the Mimics are well explained to the audience without much confusion at all. However, there's a slight complaint though: the rest of the cast (especially J squad) does not have any real character development at all and they need to rely on exposition to know who they are.

Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a well-made sci-fi action comedy thriller. It's funny, thrilling and action-packed, the story makes sense and everything falls into place nicely in the end. It's one of the good films released this year.

Rating: 8/10


Note: After a 2nd viewing of the film, it is confirmed that the previous theory for the ending is wrong. I have edited the explanation below.

What are the Mimics actually?
Mimics are 'highly evolved world-conquering' aliens equipped with time-loop ability, which gives them the edge to efficiently respond to any military combat strategies when invading other planets. It is said that there's possibly more Mimics out there in the universe. But, one of them found Earth and decides to invade it. It is explained in the film that the Mimics are actually ONE single entity, despite the fact that there's millions of them: the normal Mimics are like 'claws', the Alphas are like the 'central nervous system' and the Omega is the 'brain'. Alphas link the Omega and normal Mimics together, it is shown that they are required to be in the battlefield for the Omega to coordinate the attacks. Alphas are extremely rare, with a ratio of approx. 1 : 6.18 millions of normal Mimics. When the Omega ('brain') dies, the other Mimics would stop functioning immediately. It is actually Omega that controls the time-loop ability. Whenever an Alpha dies, it triggers an automatic response for Omega to reset time. It was not shown or stated that after Omega resets the time, the previously died Alpha comes back or not. Although Cage never meets back the Alpha that he previously killed, but since the scenario of the beach battle is different each time when Cage resets time (he took a different path), it's hard to say that the Alpha remains dead or alive. If it remains dead, it explains its 'rarity' as well since it's explained that Omega resets time quite often to gain the upper hand. The time-loop ability is transferable. However, by gaining the blood of an Alpha or Omega, a person able to gain the time-loop ability to reset the day. When a person gains the blood of an Alpha or Omega, he/she can access the alien's central nervous system and gains the time-loop ability to reset the day and Omega loses the ability. Humans never had a real victory since the invasion started. It is stated that the victory at Verdun was actually staged by Omega, to make the humans believe that it is possible to win the war, but it's not.

If the Omega loses its time-loop ability to Cage, then why it's able to trick Cage about its location?
Although Cage gains the time-loop ability, he's still linked to Omega (much like an Alpha). When Cage died countless times, Omega can still sense that there's something wrong due to the numerous automatic trigger response in his nervous system to reset time. Therefore, he moved to a new location and tries to track down Cage to gain back its ability.

After they discovered that the Omega resets the day and moved to Paris, Cage used a device invented by Rita's friend to locate the Omega. How the device actually work?
The device is a transponder, a device that emits an identifying signal in response to a received signal. It is explained that the Alphas are 'central nervous system' to the Omega, they are linked together by transmitting a certain frequency signal to each other. Cage was infected with the blood of an Alpha, therefore he is linked to Omega. Therefore, he can use the device to track Omega.

Why there's only one Alpha guarding the Omega when Cage and the rest reach the Omega's location? Omega should increase its defence when he's aware that they're coming for it?
Cage has lost the ability due to blood transfusion and Omega has gain back its ability. Alphas are extremely rare, they're required to be in the battlefield to coordinate the attacks, since they function as the 'nervous system' of Omega. If the humans kill an Alpha without touching its blood, Omega can reset the day and come up a better plan and relocate itself. There are hundreds or thousands of normal Mimics surrounding the area, an Alpha should be enough to guard Omega against the humans until it relocates itself again.

What actually happened at the end? Why Cage is still alive (so do the rest of the cast), wakes up on a helicopter instead of the training camp at Heathrow airport?
No one truly knows what really happened at the end as it wasn't shown clearly in the film. But we can roughly know the ending based on the 'logics and rules' established in the film.

Before explaining what actually happened at the end, there's a few notion about the film which is deemed inaccurate. They effectively create plot holes as they're against other plot logics established in the film:
  • "Killing the Omega does not destroy the Mimics and end the war, but it does remove their "time reset" ability, thus severely weakening them and therefore finally allow the humans to gain the upper hand." The general announced on the news that 'the Mimics was weak' and the army is still preparing for the battle at the beach.
It's established that the Mimics are actually one single entity, without the 'brain', the Mimics cannot function alone. This is clearly demonstrated when Omega is killed after the explosion, the Mimics that surrounds the Paris area stopped functioning immediately.

There's one way to explain this: At that particular point in time, humans, the global population, including the general doesn't know how the biology of the Mimics at all, only Cage knows (they don't know that Mimics are one single entity or Omega's existence). The sudden 'shutdown' of the Mimics prompted the announcement of the Mimics' defeat on the news. They assumed that 'the Mimics was weak'. The general stated that the Mimics were incapable of fighting. However, they didn't announced that the war has been won, because they weren't sure that the Mimics were 'absolutely' defeated (Cage killed Omega and secured victory for mankind).

This is affirmed when Cage looked "surprised and happy" when he saw the news on TV and visited the camp -as a Major, high ranking officer- to see his ex-mates and Rita, this hints that he knew the Omega wasn't there anymore and there's nothing to worry about. The army were still can still see them doing their training because they wasn't absolutely sure that Mimics were actually defeated. Otherwise, Cage would surely advise them how to survive the war or find another way instead of just looking them with a smile.
  • Omega remains dead after Cage obtained Omega's blood and went into a time-loop.
Rita always alive when Cage resets and go back over countless times throughout the film. This is a plot hole created by this notion. To avoid this, Omega MUST BE ALIVE when Cage obtained Omega's blood and resets time again. The notion above is correct after the 2nd viewing. Omega exists outside of the time-loop dimension, in a different space-time continuum which is linked to the time-loop dimension, to observe, gather information, form plans accordingly. When he dies in the 'future' - the night at Louvre, he's dies in the 'past' as the time-loop space-time dimension becomes a reality. All humans are affected by the time-loop ability, except Omega. It's the Omega's genes (high concentration of Omega's or Alpha's blood) that grants the time-loop ability, so even if Omega is dead, the time-loop ability will happen to Cage regardless. When there's a blood transfusion, it dilutes the Alpha's blood in Cage's body and he cannot use the ability and Omega gains back its ability. It's possible that when Omega was blown up, in that short moment its 'body' remains alive before dying, still retain the time-loop ability and triggers for the last time.

So now, let me explain in further detail for the ending:
  • Day One - Cage arrives in London, got demoted by the general. He wakes up in milítary camp, got introduced to J squad, later escapes, seeks Rita Vrataski, etc. 
  • Before Day Two battle - Fly to Paris at night to kill the Omega.
  • Day Two - the day of the battle.
The day Cage arrives in London and got demoted and the day he wakes up in camp are actually the same day. This is confirmed when the general said something like: "I never expect to see you...let alone the same day..." when he sees Cage again at one scene in the film.

After the explosion, Omega is dead and all the Mimics stop functioning. The blood that seeps into Cage's body at the end was not from the Alpha, but from Omega. It is explained that the actual one who has the ability to reset the day is Omega (the 'brain'), not the Alpha. By having Omega's blood, Cage gains the full time-loop ability of Omega and can reset time again, ending the war with minimum casualties.

After Cage successfully kills the Omega, he went into a time-loop, which is Day One (or earlier, because the day Cage and Rita recruit J squad to fly to Paris is actually Day One), he look surprised when he saw the news mentioning Louvre's explosion and the Mimics stop functioning. Omega died in the explosion. Before Omega completely dies and cease to function, it triggers the time-loop ability for the last time once the its blood seeps into Cage's body. Omega exists outside of the existing 'time-loop dimension' and has its own dimension. When Omega dies in its own dimension, it becomes reality during the night at Louvre. The reality of the explosion and Omega is killed takes place in the reset past and Omega stays dead in the new 'reset past reality'. All humans are affected by the time-loop ability, except Omega. So, Rita, J squad and the rest are alive and well. agoing through countless time-loops over and over again until he could defeat Omega himself and survive, preventing the deaths of many, including J squad and Rita. He's got the 'edge' now since he's equal to Omega in terms of ability, well-trained and knows what will happen, so it should be easy for him to kill Omega alone. (Omega would still be alive when he goes back. Otherwise, it will be a plot hole as Rita always alive when he resets and go back over countless times throughout the film.) Although I can't confirm it is Cage alone that infiltrated Paris and killed Omega himself, as there wasn't enough evidence to prove it, but that's my guess.

The scene at the end where he wakes up and leaves the helicopter is a different scene, after he killed the Omega and single-handedly won the war (they just reused the scene to make us think that he's meeting the general, but this is not true as the general was on the news, announcing Mimic's sudden defeat to the public).

If the above explanation is correct, Cage wouldn't have the necessary resources and equipments. How he is able to defeat the Omega?
Before he meets the general, he's still a high ranking officer. Since he's the spokesperson of the United Defence Force, he should have some connections to obtain the necessary resources and equipments to pursue and defeat the Omega.

Previous Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Next Review: Maleficent



    Nice review, but your version of the ending (despite being pretty smart and fun) is wrong. The Omega lives and exists outside the time travel, that's why its is close to conquer the world, otherwise it would be impossible for him to do it. This is the reason Rita is alive and the Omega not at the ending. When the Omega is killed in the future, it is also killed in the past. That's all. Rita and the others are human beings, they do have a time travel loop.

    When Cage wakes up at the ending, he doesn't look like if he was time travelling a lot of times before and defeating the Omega on its own. On the contrary, he looks confused, stunned, and very relieved when he hears the news about the enemy being suddenly weakened and finally, he is so happy to discover Rita is alive.

    This is the fun of time-travelling movies, they invite you to make up countless theories, and most of them could be valid.
    But the fact is the ending is much simple than the one you (and many time-travelling movies fans) are graphing.


    1. Watched the film 2nd time. Agree with you that Omega exists outside of the time-loop dimension and when Omega dies in its own dimension, it becomes reality during the night at Louvre. When Cage is in the new reset past, Omega stays dead as it's not in its own 'dimension' anymore. Cage looked surprised at the end, this proved that my theory is wrong.