It's also got a few good writing lessons to teach us. Brace yourselves for some spoilers, folks.
|Listen up if you don't want to die again, privates!|
Tom Cruise plays Major Cage, a smarmy P.R. officer who tries to get out of combat duty by blackmailing a superior officer. He's oily, has no discernible morals and is a blatant coward, so we're not exactly sympathetic when he's arrested and tossed into a front-line squad of grunts. Then we see him running through a combat zone, aliens butchering everyone around him, in a suit he's not trained to use (with the safety on!), and we're on his side. We want him to live, even if he is a dick.
|He probably threw up in his helmet at some point.|
2. Keep your pseudoscience simple.
The science behind how Cage keeps coming back to life is hideously complicated, if it has any validity at all, and is almost entirely not discussed. But the rules are told to us, and they're simple: When Cage dies he wakes up the morning before he dies. He remembers everything that happened. If he bleeds out too much and survives, he stops coming back to life, so if he gets injured he has to make sure he dies.
|Death 587: Alcohol poisoning.|
3. Remember that your mentor did things.
Major Cage is guided through his efforts to save the day by Rita Vertaski, a veteran soldier who had the same talent Cage has and lost it. Throughout the movie we get references to her time as the Angel of Verdun, to people she loved and lost, to adventures she had and the horrors she's been through. It takes a badass woman with a big sword and makes her into a complex figure, someone the audience gets to know in some ways more closely than Cage himself.
|But still a badass. Don't call her Full Metal Bitch to her face.|
4. Take away your hero's cool thing.
Edge of Tomorrow gets a lot of mileage out of Cage's reset button, including a long sequence where Cage just dies in humorous ways for my sadistic amusement. I got used to him being able to survive whatever's thrown at him. So when the enemy started trying to kill him in a way he can't come back from, I got nervous. And when Cage lost his resurrection trick and had to save the world with no way to come back, I was on the edge of my seat. Because I no longer knew that Cage was going to survive. The movie got me used to what Cage could do and then took that away from him. By removing the primary advantage Cage had, it raised the stakes immeasurably. Cage was in more danger than ever before and nothing was certain.
5. Deus ex machina is a maid service.
Edge of Tomorrow ends with Cage and Vertaski sacrificing themselves to end the war. That would be satisfying ending on its own, but also a real downer. Fortunately an alien deus ex machina crops up that lets Cage launch one final reset and give us a happy ending. And believe it or not, it works! Doesn't feel like a cop out at all. The reason is because the day has already been saved without assistance - the heroes won on their own, playing entirely by the rules. All the deus did was patch the "Pyrrhic" out of a Pyrrhic victory.
|To be fair, Europe is still dead.|
And finally, bonus lesson number six:
6. Weird-ass aliens are awesome and we need more of them.
Seriously, I don't know what the Mimics are but just look at the damn things:
|WHAT THE FUCK|