In the Loop: Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

It’s a joke now that we’ve all been repeating the same day over and over for more than a year now. I had been thinking about this and also my unapologetic love of time loop movies.

Welcome to In the Loop, a project where I will write about time loop movies (and on occasion, TV shows) once a week.

Note: I will be writing about all of these movies as if you’ve seen them, so spoilers ahead!

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014, directed by Doug Liman)

  • Time until the loop begins: 25 minutes
  • The cause of the loop/inciting incident: William Cage is sprayed with alien blood
  • Number of time loops: At least 23 but probably more off-screen
  • Lessons learned: Did anyone learn anything? Maybe something about teamwork

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When I wanted to watch this movie for the first time, I couldn’t remember what the title was so I just searched for “Tom Cruise dies a lot movie.”

Now, to be fair, this movie also seemed to be confused as to what it was called. It was based on a Japanese novel, All You Need is Kill, but that title was scrapped because of the word “kill.” It was released in theaters with the generic title of Edge of Tomorrow with director Doug Liman’s preferred title, Live Die Repeat, as the tagline. But for the home market, it was retitled as Live Die Repeat mostly because not enough people went to see a movie called Edge of Tomorrow. Or something. Are we confused yet?

So yes, this is the movie where Tom Cruise dies a lot. Let’s just call it that.

Tom Cruise’s William Cage is a media relations guy for the U.S. military during an alien invasion. Not wanting to be blamed for casualties, General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson) wants him to cover it from the inside. They get into conflict with each other and now Cage has been demoted to private and is going to go into battle despite having no actual military training.

(Suspend your disbelief that the fiftysomething Cruise — no matter how young he still looks — would be a private in the military and just go with it.)

Cage is kind of a jerk so it’s hard to feel too bad for him here. His squadron immediately hates him (which, fair) and basically leaves him to die on the beach. Which he does. But not before being sprayed with alien blood. Then the time loop starts.

I appreciate that Cage doesn’t spend a lot of time freaking out about the time loop and what’s happening to him, but instead, tries to use his prior knowledge of events to improve the outcome. After encountering Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the so-called “Angel of Verdun,” on the battlefield, she realizes what is happening to Cage and tells him to find her the next time.

Turns out, Rita also used to be going through the same time loop but isn’t anymore.

There’s nonsense about how the aliens are a collective intelligence and time means different things for them and yeah, like Cage being a 50-year-old private, just go with it.  To be fair, Live Die Repeat isn’t as nonsensical as a lot of action sci-fi movies are, but it doesn’t really all hold together given too much thought. However, it moves at a quick pace and at under two hours, it doesn’t drag things out too much. The video-game-like scenario also helps it, and I’m glad they never spent too much time repeating the same thing over and over. They just show Cage and Rita getting closer and closer to their goal.

Blunt’s Rita is awesome and I don’t know why the movie wasn’t about her. She’s not quite enough of a focus where you can just pretend the movie is actually about her, but she does provide the best emotional beats. Her quiet, heartbroken reflection of “I watched him died 300 times and I remember every detail. I remember everything so I don’t need to talk about it” when Cage pushes her to tell her about someone she loved is beautiful. And I do have to say, much more interesting that Cage’s “But I have to protect you!” instinct when he admits there’s a certain point where Rita always dies no matter what he does.

I do get the impression Cage is in love with Rita but the movie never forces it. She does give him a kind kiss toward the end, but it feels much more friendly and like a good-bye than an “I could love you too if we survive this.”

The movie wraps up with a big action sequence — like all these movies do — strangely taking place under The Louvre (farewell, centuries of precious art) and Cage is sent back to the very beginning of the movie but now everything is different! Well, not everything, because the earth has still been invaded by aliens, but because Cage destroyed the main alien in the future, he also destroyed it in the past (yeah, just … go with it, once again) and the world is saved!

I will watch the sequel (if and when it gets made) but the movie I really want to see is Rita’s story at the Battle of Verdun. Let’s just leave Tom Cruise out of this.

Next In two weeks on July 6 13: Looper

In the Loop logo by Sarah Burnett. If you’d like to support this project, buy one of my Polaroids.