How Edge Of Tomorrow's Time Loop Works

Edge of Tomorrow Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise stand on the battlefield

Ok, folks, hear me out: what I’m about to tell you sounds crazy, but you have to listen to me. Our lives may depend on it, and the longer I talk, the more rational it may sound. This isn’t the first time I’ve covered the time loop from the vastly underappreciated Tom Cruise blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow. The only problem is, every time I’ve tried to tell this story to completion, something’s come up and derailed my train of thought, meaning I needed to start all over again.

As you may remember from the end of our trip into the Lost in Space time travel scenario, I kinda got myself stuck in this time loop as a result. I can’t leave until I tell you how the film also known as Live Die Repeat weaves its temporal magic, so I’m going to try one last time,and see if it works. Hopefully this is the loop I finally make it to the end of the lesson, as I’d kind of like to get back into the normal flow of time. For the umpteenth time, here’s how the time loop in Edge of Tomorrow works.

Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise running from danger

The Time Loop In Edge Of Tomorrow

Back in an alternate 2015, an alien race known as the Mimics invade Earth, guns a’blazin’. They take the world by storm, with Europe being a pretty big focus. Humanity evolves its warfighting capabilities, and somehow in the alternate 2020, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is seen as a good candidate to be embedded on the front lines. Stuff happens, Cage gets demoted for desertion and cowardice, and he accidentally gets himself stuck in a time loop. On the plus side, he does get to keep running into Sergeant Major Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt,) the Angel of Verdun.

What Causes The Time Loop In Edge Of Tomorrow

The Mimics have a really cool ability: they can manipulate time and reset a time loop to their own satisfaction. There are two components to the Mimic’s looping strategy: the Omega, the hive mind that coordinates all of the Mimic grunts, and the Alpha, specialized Mimics connected to the Omega. Kill an Alpha, the Omega triggers the time loop and starts the chain of events from the beginning, with full knowledge of every loop’s events stored in their minds. You could say it’s in their blood. In fact, it really is in their blood, as both Cage and Vrataski find out the hard way. Both have killed an Alpha and ingested their blood, which gives them the same time looping skills as a Mimic.

Who’s Caught In/Aware Of The Time Loop

While a lot of folks are brought into the fold throughout Edge of Tomorrow’s course of events, there are three key figures that are in on the gag for a majority of the movie. Major Cage and Sergeant Major Vrataski are two of those people, with the third being Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor), an expert in particle physics and advanced microbiology. Though thanks to the world’s skepticism about time loops, he was officially labeled “a mechanic with psychiatric delusions.”

When Does The Loop Start/Reset

In Major Cage’s case, his loop starts the day before Operation Downfall is triggered by the United Defense Force, with him waking up at Forward Operating Base Heathrow (a.k.a. Heathrow Airport). He will always go back to that starting point, no matter when he dies throughout the day. As for when the loop ends, that depends on how far Major Cage can go without dying; but dying is always the end of the loop, sending him back to Heathrow. So unlike other time loop movies where the day resets at a specific time no matter what, Cage has to die in order to start his loop over.

Edge of Tomorrow Emily Blunt and Noah Taylor explain the Omega

How The Time Loop Is Used In Edge Of Tomorrow

If anyone could use a time loop scenario like the one in Edge of Tomorrow to their advantage, it’s Major William Cage. Sent to the front lines of Operation Downfall, the man has no combat experience; just his smile and his public relations skills. But thanks to training with Sergeant Major Rita Vrataski, this situation is quite advantageous. Though this is also an advantage for the evil Mimic species, as this skill is built into their DNA and used to give them the strategic edge against anyone they're trying to subjugate.

What Are The Advantages Of The Time Loop In Edge of Tomorrow

Imagine your typical time loop scenario: infinite retries at figuring out how to defeat an extraterrestrial enemy are the huge advantage in Edge of Tomorrow’s exciting premise. With the ability to retain the memories of your past experiences, and a dash of immortality added into the mix, you can do anything and everything to become a better fighter.

What Are The Challenges Of The Time Loop

There are two huge problems when it comes to the time loop in Edge of Tomorrow: since that ability is in the blood, and there’s a war kind of going on around our characters, you can easily lose your time looping abilities. With a simple blood transfusion, both Rita and William go from living, dying and repeating their respective conflicts to making their final siege on The Louvre count for absolutely everything.

Also, no matter how much you try to convince people who haven’t experienced a time loop that you’re engaged in such a scenario, it’s really hard to try and get any sort of help outside of your own sphere of influence. So you’re either going to have to sneak around to get things done, or you’re going to have to find a full metal bitch, a mechanic with “psychiatric delusions” or a company of misfit soldiers to help you win a war. And you thought Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor had it tough in the Terminator universe.

Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise lets his grenade pins go

How Does The Time Loop Finally Stop In Edge Of Tomorrow

On the individual level, a blood transfusion takes away the time looping abilities that William and Rita enjoy throughout Edge of Tomorrow’s story and backstory. If a person loses enough blood but doesn't die, they will lose the power. However, that’s only part of the problem, as the Omega Mimic can trigger those loops with the help of their Alpha Mimic foot soldiers. Which leaves the ultimate solution to the time looping chaos being the fact that you have to take out the Omega in order to stop the loop and crush the entire Mimic army.

Seeing what was believed to be visions of where the Omega was hiding out, Sergeant Major Rita Vrataski helped lead the United Defense Force to victory at the Battle of Verdun, but failed to kill the Omega in the process. Which left the Mimics with an opportunity to move onto another battlefield, where they could manipulate time once again. But with some experimental technology developed by Dr. Carter, William taps into the Omega’s mental wavelengths and discovers its true location: underneath The Louvre in Paris.

The last ditch effort to prevent the slaughter of UDF forces participating in Operation Downfall sees a daring raid launched on The Louvre, as Major Cage, Sergeant Major Vrataski and the misfits of J-Squad take the fight to the Mimic hive. Everyone dies in action, with Cage as the last man standing. Attacked by an Alpha as he’s swimming towards the Omega, the Major quickly pulls the pins on a full belt of grenades and drops them into the Omega.

The explosion kills the entire Mimic army, as well as the Omega itself, and the blood of the Omega resurrects Major Cage one last time, bringing him back a day to when he first landed in London. Rita and the entirety of J-Squad are still alive, and Operation Downfall never even has to take place. Cue the smitten William laying eyes on Rita for the first time, and that classic Tom Cruise smile flashing on screen.

Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise smiling in uniform

Live. Die. Repeat?

Congratulations to us! More importantly, congratulations to me, as I can finally escape the time loop where I’m discussing Edge of Tomorrow ad infinitum. The air feels fresher, the coffee more delicious and there was never a fight between William and Rita that triggered the much darker book ending. Though how they’re ever going to get a sequel/prequel out of this story is beyond me, as Live Die Repeat and Repeat doesn’t say much to what’s in the cards. I guess we’ll just have to worry about that loop when it happens.

Speaking of which, I have a small confession to make. We’ve escaped this particular time loop, but I can’t help but feel like I haven’t shaken this phenomenon just yet. Ok, folks, hear me out: what I’m about to tell you sounds crazy, but you have to listen to me. Our lives may depend on it, and the longer I talk, the more rational it may sound. I’m about to enter another, more deadly time looping scenario, and the craziest thing is… it’s not even my birthday.

However, it is Tree Gelbman’s birthday, as next time we meet, we’ll be diving into that Blumhouse duology of pain and comedy that we all know and love. Happy Death Day to us, dear readers, as this gruesome twosome of horror and temporal hijinks is going to have us blowing out candles and unmasking evil villains! Here we go again, again.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.