Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, based on All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
Cinematography: Dion Beebe
by Tory Maddox
I read that this film was most similar to a video game and couldn’t agree more. I just got done revisiting Call of Duty 2 on Veteran mode and had an absolute blast. There was only one moment in the game where I had to turn to YouTube to see if maybe I was dealing with a flaw in the game, or it was actually as hard as I thought. I truly had no idea. For those of you who haven't played, you’re on the gun turret, which is on the back of a fast moving half-track in South Africa (and moves extremely slow when you try to adjust). Because of how the enemy is positioned, the turret is not an option to kill all of the enemies. It requires a combination of precision thrown grenades, your rifle, and the half track used as defense and I still don’t know how I ended up beating the thing. I can’t recall the exact time, but it took me about two and a half hours to accomplish - with each attempt lasting about fifteen seconds before I'd get killed. I did not want to look up the answer. Part of me knew that there was a way to win. The program was developed by humans and those humans had probably played it thousands of times and deliberately made it the most difficult obstacle in the entire game. From that point on, although it was hard, I continued to play while thinking more in the minds of the developer. ‘What would I do to make this extremely difficult and, given my current arsenal and the surrounding terrain, how can it be overcome?’
Edge of Tomorrow follows the same logic, except in a game that clearly goes on for what has to be around five years worth of time. It involves Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) who's a public affairs military officer assigned to cover an alien invasion in France. Cage objects, is tasered and sent to the front lines, bumped down to private, forced to join the D-Day inspired invasion. It started rough and I thought it was falling into the tropes I wanted to avoid - the angry and seasoned soldiers, the cocky new guy, the hot girl, and while it took these on, it was also done in a fresh way. By the time Cage reaches battle and dies within seconds, we're thrown into the perils of video game play - to try and figure out a way to solve the problem, using what you learned to advance as far as you can.
Tom Cruise inches forward ever so slightly. At one point, I found myself wondering why he doesn’t go to a bar, or a brothel and escape the problems. I’m not sure how long it’d last, and without going into the details, the film highlights why the situation would fail. He would go and the world would inevitably end any way. He’s therefore forced to advance as far through the battle as possible. At one point the girl wants to take the helicopter and he knows that it’s not a possibility. She dies every single time. This is one of the points where I wondered why he didn’t just prepare to kill all the aliens that were trying to harm her since he knew where they’d be? The thing is he probably did try that. Once again, they didn’t need to show it. Even if they got away in the helicopter, it wouldn’t have mattered because they’d die later on. Just like when I went into the German Bunker during the final D-Day level in Call of Duty, although it obviously was a long tangent and possible way to win, I always died and had to go another route. It wasn’t worth getting through something so difficult to get to something even more difficult. And so Cage finds another way.
Of course, Cage then loses his power, but manages to save the world any way. As much as I rolled my eyes at this classic Hollywood trope (you won't be keep the treasure and you won't keep your new powers), not at all worried that he would just give up, it was a great film; one of those in which you know it’s all going to work out, and it’s really just about discovering how it’ll all happen, ensuring that the logic doesn't bend too far and destroy the entire movie. It was exciting to see a film attempt to embody the spirit of the video game, rather than provide a hackneyed story. It was fascinating to anticipate the places he could go and alternatives he could visit and the film was smart enough to address them in quick and succinct ways. It treated us with respect and figured we were smart enough to get the winks. It’s not the deepest film, but I’d say it’s an important one as movies and video games continue on their merging paths.
BELOW: A throwback to the many D-Day battles portrayed in film
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