Just as I was beginning to worry that no summer action flick would ever pass the Bechdel test, Known Feminist Tom Cruise has promised me sweet solace with his latest release, Edge of Tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be more excited if Cruise wooed Jenny McCarthy with the power of Scientology and the two formed one modern-medicine-shaming super couple.
In the film, Cruise’s character, Cage (a wink at other action superstar Nicolas Cage??), is clearly the only person capable of saving the world from aliens. Sure, Emily Blunt’s character, Rita, has way more combat experience, but despite her tough exterior, she let her emotions get the best of her when she had her chance at the edge of tomorrow’s dawn of battlefield glory. You see, Cage finds himself stuck in the Battlefield Earth version of Groundhog Day, and he’s the only one clever enough to figure out how to destroy the big papa “Omega” alien. Emily Blunt once had this power, but she treated it like 50 First Dates and lost the power, because feelings.
On the surface, this is a ground-breaking action flick, but once you peel back the layers (THERE ARE SO MANY), you will realize that this is actually an exploration of a woman’s struggle to carve out a place for herself as an active member of the military. (Trigger warning: there are absolutely no triggers because Known Feminist Tom Cruise is a goddamn saint.) Rita has become the face of the frontline after the military PR machine has dubbed her the “Angel of Verdun” and plastered her face all about town. In the photo, Rita grasps amachine gun between her open legs. At first glance, you might find this phallic, but when you really think about it, Rita is actually both subverting and reclaiming the angel/whore dichotomy with an amalgamation of the two. Citizens and other members of the military call her the “Full Metal Bitch,” which you might read (literally, it’s scrawled across a bus in a tour-de-force of subtle character development) as another example of how women exhibiting traditionally masculine characteristics are categorized as bitches, but you’re wrong. You’re wrong because Cage is a lover of the ladies. With one cutting glance, he can silence the utterance of this reductive label.
What would’ve made Demi Moore’s G.I. Jane better? If she had a man to vouch for her. Tom Cruise can be that man. Without Cage, Rita never would’ve figured out that cars drive faster when you unhitch the trailer behind them. After all, every feminist needs a man to help her become one.
Overall, I give it a B for “Bitches, amiright?”