Here's a preview for those of you who've never heard of it.
Tom Cruise plays William Cage, a former advertising executive who's taken a PR role in the Armed Forces. He is then ordered to serve in the war against alien invaders. The battle is a catastrophic event as the soldiers are no match for their powerful enemies. Cage, who is ill prepared for such an experience, fumbles his way through battle as he watches others die around him. Somehow, me manages to kill one of the large alien creatures called "Mimics" and dies in the process.
The next scene open with Cage in the exact same location before going to battle the day before. From there everything repeats itself exactly as he experienced it. William tries to warn others of the impending disaster that awaits the combat team but everyone thinks he's crazy. He has to relive the battle all over again. This time, Cage is aware of some of what's about to happen and tries his best not to die again. But, unfortunately, he does.
The rest of the movie consists of Private Cage repeating the same day over again over again, dying numerous times in his quest to defeat the enemy. Each time we wakes up again, he does so with a growing sense of assurance (and awareness). Cage tweaks his actions in order to experience different outcomes. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. To me, the most powerful aspect of the movie is when he partners with Sergeant Rita Vrataski. She's aware of what he's experiencing and begins his combat training to defeat the enemy. She knows that Cage will wake up the moment he dies, to start the day over again. She has absolutely no hesitation in killing Cage to reset the day as many times is necessary. Cage, on the other hand, is somewhat attached and is hesitant to "die," even though he instantly wakes up again like nothing happens.
The reason why I connected with this movie so much is because I see this story as an analogy for our lives. Each morning, we wake up at the same location (just like Cage). Chances are, you do the same thing every morning (just like Cage who had to go through the same routine each time he woke up). You probably have a goal (just like Cage who's mission was to kill the enemy). And you probably fail to reach your goal(s) each day (just like Cage did).
But here's what Cage did to change the course of his life.
1. He did something different. After reliving the same day/same outcomes repeatedly, Cage made the decision to break the normal routine and shift his environment. That's how he meets Rita who helps develop his skills in battle.
2. He works with a coach. When Cage tried to defeat the enemy on his own, the outcome was predictable. One Rita started training him, the progress he made was pretty astounding.
3. He used his fears to motivate him. I wrote this Fearless Friday post before I watch the movie, but there was a scene in the film that illustrates my point perfectly. William is disheartened by going into battle day in and day out only to lose his life in a new and unexpected way. He's unmotivated and decides to leave the base and head to town for drinks instead of going off to battle. What he doesn't realize is that, by not showing up, he then allows for the enemy to easily defeat the humans then invading the town and taking innocent lives. To Cage, this outcome is unacceptable, and when his day "resets." His level of intensity and motivation to kill the enemy is at an all time high. In the same way, you have to focus what will happen if you don't move towards your goals and use that as fuel to push you forward in a powerful way.
4. He resets, he resets, he resets. This is my favorite part of the movie. The message is clear. If things aren't going the way it's supposed to, then you've got to reset. Have you ever promised yourself that, in the morning, you're gonna work out. Then the morning passes and you've done nothing. You start feeling bad about yourself and proceed to eat a fatty lunch because, hey, you've already messed up so it makes no difference. This movie taught us to think in a new way. If things aren't going right, reset. Tom Cruise had to "die" to reset his day. I practiced reseting by simply realizing when things weren't going as planned, and making immediate adjustments in my actions.
Once I realized that I'd missed my morning meditation, I'd reset by setting some time to do it now. When I looked around my office and noticed the environment was a bit disorganized, I immediately took a couple minutes to reset it to look the way I wanted to. Realize that you can change things that you don't like at any time and all the time. We're making decisions all the time. Let's keep resetting and making new decisions for ourselves. We already know what the outcome will be if we keep heading down the dame path. Why not try something new each day to see what happens.
I also want to point out that every fail that Cage experienced helped him for the next day. That's how he continued to make progress. The lesson is to reflect on the day before and what you learned about what to do and what NOT to do. Think about last week, what lessons did you learn that you can use to help you make this week even better. I've already identified what didn't work for me last week so I can avoid them this week. If it doesn't work, I'll reset. Even if things go well, I can always ask myself, what I can do to make my results better.
Even without the life lessons, this movie is pretty entertaining. Highly recommend.