Thursday, February 26, 2015
Edge of Tomorrow Meddler Week, Part 4: The Ridiculous (and All-Too-Familiar) Phony-Sacrifice Ending
Yes, it’s the return of the same problem that plagues Superman Returns, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness and many more: the hero gloriously sacrifices his life to save everybody else...only to wake up afterwards just fine.
Of course, that may sound inherent to this particular movie’s premise, but it’s not, because Cruise has lost the ability to repeat and has to really win without any do-overs, which makes the finale far more exciting…until the very last second when he regains the ability just as he gives his life to defeat the bad guys.
So Cruise wakes up in the past all over again, but this time it’s a past in which the bad guy has still been defeated…even though all the guys who died defeating him are once again alive! Huh? In all of Cruise’s previous reboots, his previous progress past the point of waking up was undone. Why should it be different this time?
For a movie that had devoted so much brain power to making this (literally) loopy premise work in a rock-solid way, this is just such a slap in the face, to abruptly abandon all of that skillfully-constructed logic at the very end.
It’s like we have this idea that nobody can just win anymore, because that would somehow be “bogus” or something. “Heroism” has become synonymous with “sacrifice.” You can’t have one without the other, apparently. And yet they still want to give us happy endings, so they just make it a consequence-less sacrifice every damn time.
Here’s an idea: if you want the hero to win, just let him WIN. Let him struggle and suffer and barely kill the bad guy, of course, but skip over the phony sacrifice scene and just let good flat-out triumph over evil for once. OR have him sacrifice himself and stay dead. Either situation could have been pulled off in a meaningful and satisfying way, but they once again tried to both, which just alienates and pisses off the audience.