Thursday, September 03, 2015

Edgy Dialogue

I've written about how Tom Cruise's 2014 film Edge Of Tomorrow is one of the best action films in recent years.  But that doesn't mean it's perfect. I've watched it (or parts of it--it's on cable pretty regularly) and there's a moment that always bothers me.  Spoilers ahead, but really, you should have seen the film by now.

Tom Cruise keeps repeating the same day of battle against aliens that have invaded Earth.  Every time he dies, he wakes up the day before.  At a certain point he meets Emily Blunt, a war hero, on the beach during a battle and tells her of his situation.  What's happening to him has happened to her, and just before they both die, she tells him to come meet her when he wakes up.

He's transported back to the previous day and goes to her. She's by herself, preparing for battle.  She doesn't know him, since only he remembers what happened when the day resets.



He approaches and she, disturbed, says "who said you could talk to me?"

He just stares.

She continues.  "Is there something on my face, soldier?"

He finally replies.  "You did.  You did. Tomorrow.  At the beach."

The problem for the screenwriter and the director is they want to do two things.  They want to set up "Is there something on my face?," which they'll use later.  But they also want the snappy comeback "who said you could talk to me?" ""you did." So they mix up the two, having Cruise stare like an idiot when he should offer up the punchline.

This is a problem that happens a lot in screenwriting. You've got two or more ideas you want to get across, or two fun things you want to do, and they get in each other's way.  You've either got to figure out how to make them work, or, as painful as it may be, cut one.  Here they just threw them together and lost the full effect of one.

I wonder if the filmmakers wish they could go back to before they did this and try it again.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comments about screenwriting seem to me to be very astute and spot-on to me as a casual viewer.

My only peeve is "really, you should have seen the film by now." No you shouldn't have. Its just a thriller and by no means a candidate for the canon (under any definition).

Maybe the unstated implication was "if you care about spoilers"

6:15 AM, September 03, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I don't know if there's any rule for spoilers, but by the time a film has had its full theatrical run and then been available on home video for a long period, you can't get mad if someone spoils it for you.

12:42 PM, September 03, 2015  
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9:30 PM, June 23, 2016  

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