Edge of Tomorrow: Becoming Part of the Time Loop
By Sarah Newton
“Live, die, repeat” is the theme of the movie Edge of Tomorrow. This movie stars Tom Cruise, a military officer named “Cage”, who is untrained to fight and has never seen a day of combat in his life. After refusing to agree with his commanding officer, he is sent to fight in a war against an army of aliens, called “mimics”. The army seems impossible to defeat. The hoards of mimics are led by the Omega mimic and his squad of Alphas. The Omega is able to reset the day and seems to know the future with the help of how the Alphas perform in battle. After Cage is sent into battle he manages to kill one of the mimics before dying. The blood of the mimic splatters onto his face and absorbs into his skin. This event causes Cage to be sent in a time loop that continues to start over every time he dies.
The time loop initially is very frustrating to Cage, he is unable to communicate to those around him what is going on but eventually he learns the benefits of the repetition. Cage’s skills in combat increase and he memorizes the moves of the enemies allowing him to be one step ahead of the enemies. Time travel plays a major role within the movie, allowing events that occur to change and alter.
Due to the blood absorbing in to his skin, Cage has the same ability as the mimics and became a part of the cycle. Every time an Alpha dies, the Omega can reset time in order to collect information and make adjustments accordingly to what happened on the battlefield (Kendrick). Each occasion that time is reset, memories stay intact as if the day still happened. Cage was able to use this ability to loop as a way to trick the Omega until he could discover a way to defeat the Omega.
At the beginning when Cage killed the Alpha, its blood mixed with his own causing him to be integrated into the network controlled by the Omega. This allowed Cage to reset time each time he died because the Omega believed that Cage was one of its Alphas and would send Cage back in time with his memories and experiences so that, as an Alpha, he would learn how to correct the mistakes that happened (The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained). Edge of Tomorrow brings about a lot of different questions and theories regarding time travel and how the system of Alphas works within the loopings of the Omega.
The Omega determines an anchor point where all Alphas and mimics are returned in order to view the past memories and fix the mistakes that occurred in the last loop. Cage as well as the Alphas would receive the memories and life experiences from the Omega of a future version of themselves who made different choices (The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained). Cage finds himself looped back to a point before the fighting breaks out every time he dies. Cage uses this to his advantage where he trains and talks to Rita, a soldier who went through the same time loop situation herself in the past. Rita teaches Cage everything she knows about the time loop and how they are supposed to defeat the mimic army. She also informs Cage that if he ever gets a blood transfusion, he loses the ability to time loop again.
There seems to be a major flaw within the cycle of time loops that has been put in place by the Omega. The self defense mechanism made by the Omega, will more than likely have a mechanism for repairing problems when they arise. “In this case, this ‘time travel’ self-defense mechanism has one serious flaw: it would trap the Omega in a perpetual loop if there were an Alpha that was weak or broken, endlessly throwing itself into harm’s way when there is not sufficient danger to warrant a ‘reboot’” (The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained). When this occurs, the Omega will send a vision to the Alpha with a signal that would attract the Alpha to a specific location. This happens to Cage eventually when the Omega believes that Cage is a defective Alpha. The location that the signal is sent from is far away from the Omega in order to keep it safe in case the Alpha is dangerous. When Cage goes to the location sent by the Omega, he believes he is going to see the Omega. However, once he arrives, Cage does not find the Omega and instead is confronted by an Alpha and a drone. While there Cage gets seriously injured and goes to kill himself in order to reset the loop. “The drone and the Alpha stopped Cage from killing himself because they do not want to loop again, since the whole point of the mechanism is to stop unnecessary looping” (The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained). It is unclear what the Alpha and drone would have done if Cage had been successful in killing himself, but most likely if he had been a mimic, they would have removed him from the loop network. The mimics would possibly have performed a process similar to the blood transfusion, and then killed him. This is why the Alpha did not kill Cage; the Alpha did not want to trigger the loop again. Cage ends up in a hospital where he receives a blood transfusion, ending the cycle that he was in as an Alpha.
In the end of the movie, Cage finds the Omega and kills it by dropping a bunch of grenades into the being. He sacrifices himself in order to save the world and stop the war. The throwing of the grenades caused Cage to die; however his blood mixes with that of the Omega as they are both dying. This event causes Cage to regain his ability to be a part of the Alpha cycle. The Omega becomes desperate and in a final attempt to escape triggers one final loop to a distant past anchor point. This anchor point is further into the past than the original anchor point to which Cage had been looping. “The Omega itself wanted to escape an imminent threat to its core” (The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained). Because of the blood, Cage became part of the cycle and retained the memories and experiences he had through all his past reboots.
“But, since the Omega exists at multiple points in time (rather than a single moving point) and was actually killed in the ‘future-present,’ the explosion actually rippled back in time and killed the Omega at all the other time points, too” (The Time Travel and Ending of “Edge of Tomorrow” Explained). When Cage wakes up, all those who had tragically died in the past cycle have been saved and are able to live their lives without fear of the mimics. There is a large surge of energy in Paris, signifying the death of the Omega in the new present time. The death “results in a total collapse of the aliens capacity to fight” (Liman). Cage holds knowledge of all the interworking of the mimic army and how they work, allowing his army to claim victory. Cage goes to the army base he was stationed at in his past cycles in order to see all those he had become friends with as well as Rita, to whom he fell in love with.
“Live, die, repeat”, a theme that reigns true through the entire film teaches a scared government worker the benefits of working hard, being strategic and how to survive. Cage is able to gain a new vision and view of the war against the mimics. The time loop that Cage gets trapped in, begins as a cage that he is unable to be free of, however Cage eventually views the cycle as a blessing to win a war and develop skills he had never had before.
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