Live. Die. Repeat.
The Film of the Book All You Need Is Kill
by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, starring Tom Cruise
and Emily Blunt
, directed by Doug Liman, and produced by Warner Bros.
An alien force known as the Mimics are invading Earth. Humanity has fought them, seemingly to a standstill, and has begun to commit massive forces to an all-out invasion to drive the Mimics back. Major William Cage, an American PR officer, is roped into joining the first wave, watches as the invasion fails utterly, and kills a strange Mimic before dying himself ...
... and awakes the day before the invasion. Trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop
of continuously repeating events, he joins forces with Rita Vrataski, a One-Man Army
war hero who knows what is happening to him, and how to use it against the invaders.
Probably the first time ever that Hollywood
has adapted a Japanese Light Novel
This film provides examples of:
- Abandoned Playground: Visible at the deserted trailer park behind the enemy lines.
- The Ace: Rita has been hailed by the propaganda machine as a peerless hero, and is indeed an astoundingly powerful warrior thanks to countless days spent training and studying Mimic tactics in a time loop. It's precisely her reputation that prompts Cage to seek out Rita's help in the first place; he believes that she can help stop the doomed beach invasion. He's correct, but not for the reason he initially thinks.
- Achilles' Heel: The Omega. Its greatest ability (to reset time) is also its greatest weakness, and it can be passed on to its enemy.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The After-Action Patch-Up scene at the farmhouse is a heartwarming moment.
- Action Girl: Rita Vrataski, who is by far the most badass and competent soldier in the UDF. Also, Nance.
- Action Survivor: Cage graduates from New Meat to this early on, at least once he starts to figure out how to avoid dying immediately. It's from there that he begins to become more of a badass.
- Adaptational Badass: The Jacket suits. In the novel and manga, the Jacket's weapons can't damage Mimic's armor since Jacket users are used to provide covering fire for heavy artillery like tanks since it's only their weapons that can damage Mimics. In the movie, a single Jacket user can kill a Mimic with the right skill and enough ammo.
- Afraid of Blood: Cage mentions this to his defense when the general commands him to go filming with the first wave. Which makes the After-Action Patch-Up scene, where he casually fixes Rita's shoulder wound, a subtle but powerful milestone of his Character Development.
- After-Action Patch-Up: Which as per usual leads to an increased bonding between Cage and Rita ... until she realises that's exactly what he's trying to achieve.
- Age Lift: In the original novel, Cage is much younger (and Japanese). Both he and Rita are only around 18.
- Aliens Are Bastards: The Mimics seem to have no goals other than the complete elimination of humanity and conquering the Earth.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Played with. The Omega is supposedly in a dam somewhere in Germany. Which turns out to be a ruse, with the Omega actually being beneath the Louvre in Paris.
- Alien Blood: Alpha Mimics and the Omega have blue blood that turns black upon contact with human skin.
- Alien Invasion: By the Mimics. It's heavily implied this isn't the first time they've done this.
- All There in the Manual: It's not explicitly explained why the aliens are called Mimics in the film. In the novel and spin-off media, they're so-called because they take characteristics from any wildlife they encounter.
- Almighty Janitor: Dr. Carter. He is a brilliant mind and used to work as a scientist at Whitehall, trying to find a way to defeat the aliens. However, he got demoted to do low rank mechanics work for the mistake of believing in Rita's story.
- Always Save the Girl: This becomes problematic for Cage. While Rita meets Cage for the first time after every single reset, he continuously forms a bond with her that makes it increasingly harder for him to let her go when he repeatedly fails to save her. During one particular loop, she realizes that he has been deliberately not going as far as he can because of this trope, and attempts to force him forward by provoking a Mimic attack that kills her. Cage promptly resets and enters a Heroic BSOD.
- America Saves the Day: Set up with "Operation Downfall" on the Normandy invasion. Subverted after it becomes clear that the Mimics were expecting the armies, leading them into the slaughter. Double Subverted when the American-led portion of the allied forces manage to destroy the source at the end, preventing said slaughter.
- Amusing Injuries: During Cage's Training Montage and Death Montage.
- Animalistic Abomination: The Mimic Alphas vaguely resemble lions.
- Animesque: Being an adaptation of a Japanese light novel/manga, multiple anime influences are visible, ranging from the Power Armor, BFS, the relationship between the male and female leads, the Anime Character Types of the squad, and even several of the action setpieces.
- Answer Cut:
- When Cage mentions to Rita that he cannot help her because he is not training for combat, we see her making a funny face. Then cut to the Training from Hell montage.
- When Rita ask Cage "Who is crazy enough to follow us" (to Paris), the scene cuts to Cage bumping into two members of J Squad.
- Anyone Can Die: And frequently instantly with no warning. There's a lot of firepower flying around; even when Cage temporarily saves a character, it is usually quite temporary.
- Arc Words: "On your feet maggot!"
- Armchair Military: Despite being responsible for recruiting millions to fight the mimics, Major Cage hasn't seen a day of combat in his life, says he only went into the military when his advertising firm folded and tells Brigham he feels queasy at the sight of blood, and as a result he's desperately trying to avoid getting sent to do propaganda coverage on the front lines of the assault. When all that fails to get him out of his assignment he tries blackmail...
- Artistic License – Geography: While the meteor came down on Hamburg (northern Germany), the subsequent map showing the spreading of the alien invasion starts out at Munich (southern Germany).
- Badass: Rita is by far the most competent warrior in the entire film. Cage works his way up to near her level.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Rita and Cage on the battleground.
- Badass Adorable: Rita Vrataski.
- Bash Brothers: Once Cage reaches Rita's level of skill, he and Rita are this, as shown when they fight in tandem on the beach while a stunned J Squad looks on.
- Batman Gambit: The Mimics masterstroke hinged on humanity taking the bait and committing their full force to a single attack. They happen to be entirely correct.
- Battle Couple: Rita and Cage develop into this, with bonus point for Back-to-Back Badasses.
- Berserk Button: Never call Rita the "Full Metal Bitch" in her presence.
- BFS: Prominently carried by Rita in most promotional posters, including the page image. Used in the film with lethal speed even though it's nearly the same size as her. Of course, she is wearing Powered Armor, which does the heavy lifting for her. It appears to be a broken-off propeller blade ripped from a downed dropship.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: During the climax, two members of J Squad are injured and hold off the attacking Mimics. When they run out of ammunition, they blow themselves and several advancing Mimics up rather than be mauled to death.
- Big Bad: The Omega Mimic is a slightly complicated example — it's the aliens' leader, but that's because they're all a single, diffuse organism, and it's the brain.
- The Big Board: The 3D projection table operated by Dr. Carter. It provides useful Info Dumps. Lampshaded by Cage praising the stunning presentation.
- Big Damn Kiss: After almost two hours of Unresolved Sexual Tension, Rita and Cage share a passionate parting kiss.
- Bilingual Bonus: The news reports near the beginning come in quite a few languages, including Polish and Hebrew, and while none of the phrases are outright mispronounced or misspelled some have quite obviously been coined by a person who isn't a native speaker (for example, the "Israeli" news report is written using archaic, fanciful grammar that would never have made it to the actual evening news in Israel).
- Bittersweet Ending: Cage is afraid of this happening; he doesn't want to win the war if Rita is lost along the way. It appears as though this trope will be played straight when Rita is killed in the last loop and Cage is shortly to follow, but then the movie subverts it at the last second.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Mimics' Hive Mind and body structure are more or less completely foreign to human science, as noted by Doctor Carter.
- Bizarre Alien Locomotion: The way the mimics move. See Everything's Better with Spinning.
- Black Comedy: The movie's main source of humour. Cage's repeated deaths and his reactions are sometimes quite hilarious.
- Black Dude Dies First: Inverted and ultimately averted. The black member of J Squad (Ford) is the last one of their ranks to die. And due to Ret Gone, neither he nor the rest of his squadmates end up dying.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Inverted. The black eyes that Cage later sports in the film help him figure out where The Omega is really hiding.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: When General Brigham questions Cage if he was trying to blackmail him, Cage's political answer is "I would prefer not to be filming acts of heroism and valor on that beach tomorrow."
- Blatant Lies:
- One of the lines that the drill sergeant shouts at the beginning of a loop is "I'M TRYING TO BE NICE TO YOU, MAGGOT!"
- Cage, during the early loops, when Rita asks him how far they got in the previous run. Also during his training. "You okay, Cage?", followed a panicked "Oh yeah! I'm good." when he's clearly limping from a broken leg.
- Bloodless Carnage: Blood is rarely shown unless it serves as a plot point, and save for Cage's first death, the camera always pans away from potentially gruesome scenes, even nonlethal injuries.
- Body Horror: Cage starts melting once splattered in Mimic blood. And then the loop begins...
- Boom, Headshot: Rita knows that the injured Cage is better off dead/restarted, so she shoots him in the head. Unceremoniously. Again and again.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted; Cage is shown running out of ammo when using his jacket's firearm several times. Played straight when their jackets are mounted on ships. This causes him to, at least on one occasion, ask for additional batteries, ammo and grenades when he knows how far he has to go.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: When Rita finds out that Cage refuses to go on past the farmhouse stage, as she never makes it out alive, she pulls this on him to remind him that it's not just her life at stake. It works, but a little too well; come the next loop, Cage is hellbent on reaching his objective no matter the cost to himself.
- Break the Haughty: The several horrifying deaths Cage suffers humble him quite a bit.
- Broken Ace:
- Rita has quite a few emotional wounds on her, as a result of fighting in this war for so longe.
- Cage ends up the same way for the exact same reason.
- The Brute: Alpha Mimics.
- Britain Is Only London: Unlike France (where we've got the Normandy beach and the mentioned-but-not-shown Verdun), the UK is given this treatment aside from a brief glimpse of the cliffs of Dover.
- Bug War: The Mimics are a Hive Mind horde of tentacled Starfish Aliens with a Fantastic Caste System.
- Butt Monkey: Cage is this for J Squad, until he manages to earn their respect.
- California Doubling: The landscape and scenery from the "German Dam" are actually from Torres del Paine National Park in Chile (Patagonia). The dam itself is CGI.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Kinda. In one loop, Cage gets fed up and sneaks off the base to drown his sorrows. In doing so, he discovers that the Mimics are going to overrun London once they've won the battle. Indeed, no matter how far Cage chooses to run, the only way he's getting any peace is if the humans win.
- Car Cushion: Taken Up to Eleven when both, Cage and Rita, land side-by-side on top of the same car after falling into a crater at the Louvre.
- The Cassandra:
- Dr. Carter was fired from the government even though he was completely right about the Mimics.
- In one loop, Cage tried to outright warn everyone about the future. They duct taped his mouth shut as a result.
- In another, when Cage has ditched the fight to get a drink, he tells a bunch of bar patrons about how he's fought the war hundreds of times. They just assume he's a coward and a deserter.
- Cage implies that every time he tries to convince someone, he's already tried to do so hundreds of times offscreen (each time ending in failure). This usually has him pull out all the stops by predicting every action down to the second in his on-screen attempt. It usually still doesn't work.
- Rita mentions that she was also this a bunch of times back when she had the power. She usually ended up worse than Cage owing to her lack of expertise as a marketer/spokesman.
- Character Development: Cage begins the story as an arrogant, cowardly Jerkass, and across the story evolves to a much more heroic figure.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Early on, Cage witnesses a soldier strapping a Claymore to his chest, presumably preparing for a Taking You with Me moment. When the soldier is killed, Cage grabs the claymore and uses it to blow up a charging Alpha; the resulting splatter of Alpha blood is what causes his deaths to reset time. The same Claymore is reused in the final battle, when the same solder uses it for a successful Taking You with Me moment against a charging wave of Mimics.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Dr. Carter pulls out a strange-looking gadget upon first meeting Cage, but then nothing comes of it. When Cage learns that the 'visions' of the Omega's location were a fake set as a trap, Dr. Carter reveals that the gadget is an attempt to recreate a transponder that could be used to find the real location; this prompts Cage to track down and steal the original.
- When time is reset Cage finds himself back on the airbase about to be woken up. The only other time we see him sleeping is at the very beginning when he is brought to London by helicopter and is woken up as they approach Whitehall. That is the moment to which time is reset at the end of the movie after Cage kills the Omega and absorbs its blood.
- Early on, Rita's inability to loop again was due to a blood transfusion performed on her. This happens to Cage at the very end of the film.
- Although, she couldn't know that this was the case. The only way of proving the loss of the ability would be death, but neither she nor Cage die after both have supposedly lost their abilities. At least not until the Omega loop kicks into action.
- Chekhov's Skill: Cage's background as a PR guy comes in handy towards the end.
- The Chessmaster: The Omega Mimic. According to Carter, its only defeat (The Battle of Verdun) was intentional to lead the humans into a false sense of safety so it could crush them all at once at Operation Downfall. It also sends false visions into Cage and Rita's heads to lure them to traps.
- The Chew Toy: Major Cage, at first.
- Colonel Kilgore: Sgt. Farell is quite fond of war, and has several poetic speeches about how battle is the one true redeemer.
- Combat Clairvoyance: The Movie. Whoever is in control of the time loops, can use the Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory to study the enemy's every move and plan accordingly.
- Contagious Powers: When he's exposed to the Alpha Mimic's blood, Cage gains their ability to reset time. Cage hilariously suggests having sex with Rita to give her the power, but she tried that back when she had it and it didn't work. When he kills the Omega in the climax, its blood lets him jump back one day further, and when he gets there it's already dead.
- Continuing Is Painful: Every time the loop restarts, Cage is flinching from the previous death, though each successive time seems to shift from shock to annoyance. On top of that, he's realized what deaths are inevitable ... especially Rita's.
- Contrived Coincidence: Justified. Events that in another story would be very unlikely coincidences are actually the result of Cage already living through them multiple times and thus knowing where everything is and what exactly he needs to do to succeed. The audience simply does not see the iterations that led to this. This is how Cage knows which abandoned vehicles still have fuel in it and have keys inside. He and Rita go directly to a farmhouse that has a working helicopter in the backyard because Cage has already explored the area and knows where it is.
- Combat Tentacles: Pretty much all of the Mimics sport these, either as appendages or as actual skin.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Gradually, and with the help of Rita's tutelage, Cage begins to treat his deaths and those of his squaddies as more an annoyance rather than the trouser-soiling reality.
- Convenient Cranny: On a couple of occasions Cage escapes an Alpha this way.
- Crazy Enough to Work: The whole plan about using the downed dropship as speed cruiser plowing through Paris in the final loop.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Some of the deaths that Cage suffers are these, though one notable one is Rita in the end. Cornered by a Mimic Alpha, it delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to her before ripping her in half.
- Cryptic Background Reference: Everything about Rita's experience at Verdun, specifically the fate of the man she had to watch die hundreds of times (and presumably couldn't save before the battle ended).
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Mimics are delivering one to humanity, mostly because of the way they fight (loop time back over and over again so that the Mimics know what they need to do in order to win.) The one time they don't do this was deliberate in order to get humanity to commit all of its forces to one final battle that they will horribly lose.
- Curse Cut Short: A Running Gag. Every time someone tries to call Rita a "Full Metal Bitch", the B-word is always cut short, drowned in other sounds, etc. During one of Cage's deaths (where he saves Rita Vrataski's life from the projectile that killed her the first time), after she steals his battery pack to power her own suit, a Mimic bursts out of the sand at him. Cage has enough time to scream "HOLY FU-" before the loop starts again.
- Deadly Training Area: Rita's "training" room where Cage receives combat training. Once he gets crippled by one of the attacking robots, Rita kills him, so he can start the session all over again.
- Dead Person Impersonation: One character of J Squad is revealed to have secretly taken on the name of a fallen friend, even sending his wages to the dead man's family.
- Deader Than Dead: A constant worry in the film is that if Cage doesn't reset (because he loses his power or because he's won the war), anyone who dies in that timeline will stay dead. Ends up going even further with the Omega, where by blowing it up and absorbing its power, Cage essentially kills it so hard that he and his squad never even have to go on a suicide mission to kill it.
- Death by Adaptation: Cage is never killed by Rita in the original novel, for a very important reason.
- Death Is Cheap: If you can reset time every time you die, this trope is bound to happen. Even invoked when Rita wants to reset when Cage flirts with her.
- Death Montage: How Cage's many deaths are depicted in some scenes.
- Decisive Battle: Operation Downfall (the invasion of France and similar attacks on every front) is essentially the equivalent of the D-Day back in WWII: Humanity is throwing all it has in an attempt to defeat the alien horde. They fail. Over and over.
- Decon-Recon Switch: The Reset Button doesn't really work if you lose over and over again on that exact, same day. The strategy of the Mimics has always been resetting time in order to adapt to one decisive battle to win. The solution is simple. Don't fight that battle. Cage, Rita, and the J Squad attacks on the night before the big battle, something that never happened before, thus something the Mimics never accounted for. And it works.
- Defensive Feint Trap: The Mimics do this in a larger scale variation. The (intentional) defeat at Verdun allowed them to lure the humans into an ambush at France, thus crushing the entire human resistance in a single stroke. The Mimics then take advantage of most of the soldiers in Britain being across the Channel in France to send a force around them and towards London to destroy it and conquer the British Isles.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Averted with Rita. Even though she starts bonding with Cage during they short time together, she always resets to being a cold-hearted bitch at the start of each loop.
- Department of Redundancy Department: A crate labeled "Vorsicht Gefahr" ("Attention Danger") can be seen in Cage's vision of the German Dam.
- Developing Doomed Characters: Right there in the premise of the movie.
- Dirty Coward: Major Cage is a grade-A yellow-belly officer pogue who tries to weasel and blackmail his way out of the front lines, and even tries running away several times on his first loop. He grows out of it.
- Diving Save: Several examples, always subverted in that the person whose life Cages saves, or Cage himself, is killed shortly after.
- Dodge the Bullet: All over the place here. Cage even ends up giving multiple master classes to Rita on how to dodge every single attack that she'll ever see, down to the pace. By the end of the film, Cage is not too shabby at dodging either, even when he doesn't already know what's coming.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Let's see - you've got a whole bunch of Scary Dogmatic Aliens that first appear in Germany before quickly engaging in several Curb-Stomp Battles against surrounding countries that were clearly unprepared for the war. However, the invasion strangely halts near Spain and Russia following the formation of an alliance between several nations, and remains largely landlocked with a goal to eventually expand to the United Kingdom, and eventually the rest of the world. This should sound familiar. The comparison to World War II is made even clearer by use of Historical In-Jokes ("Operation Downfall" was also the name of the hypothetical land invasion of Japan before use of nuclear weapons was authorized, and the actual event is more or less D-Day with aliens and mechsuits Gone Horribly Wrong). The map showing Mimic-controlled Europe corresponds almost perfectly to that of Nazi-controlled Europe on D-Day, down to the Italian front being roughly at Rome (which was liberated right before D-Day).
- Rita, "The Angel of Verdun", a sword-wielding, armoured woman who has become an inspirational figure for the whole army and had visions, is more than a little Joan-of-Arc-ish.