Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman.
Plot: After an alien race renders the Earth inhabitable, the human race migrates to Saturn’s moon, Titan. Left on Earth to maintain energy production for the moon, Jack Harper (Cruise) and Victoria (Riseborough) are the last two people on the planet. Or so they think.
Visionary director Joseph Kosinsky takes another stab at creating a futuristic Sci-Fi with Oblivion, based on a graphic novel he wrote but supposedly never published. His last work was his directorial debut, Tron Legacy – which was an ambitious flop haunted by stunted characters and an awkward script. Unfortunately, Oblivion follows suit.
Tom Cruise stars as Tom Cruise, playing another Jack, again struggling to fit into a role that hides his fame. The Jack is question is Jack Harper, a maintenance man situated on an apocalyptic Earth in charge of repairing and monitoring drones designed to guard tidal energy- processing machines that somehow send said energy to Saturn’s moon Titan, where the rest of humanity has retreated. After an alien invasion that was preluded with the destruction of the moon (thus upsetting the planet’s gravity causing earthquakes and tsunamis), humans nuked the place to rid the Earth of the. Them, the invaders, called ‘Scavengers’ by man, live underground, bent on sabotaging the energy operations that keep mankind alive in distant space. The story itself has some plot holes and jogs ahead of the audience at times, as well as being predictable and quite obviously inspired by similar films, (Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, even WALL-E) but is decent enough.
In fact, the first 25 minutes or so are the most enjoyable, in which Harper embodies a futuristic Will Smith of I Am Legend, drifting around the nuclear wasteland repairing drones and reminiscing ‘classic’ football games circa pre-apocalypse. These things take place in either very barren, dry exteriors or very clean, shiny, and rather white interiors. If there’s anything we’ve learned about the future from sci-fi, it’s that it’s very white. A lot of effort goes into Oblivion’s visuals, including a pretty cool fragmented moon, but not enough in characters or their dialogue. Jack’s partner, Victoria, played by Andrea Riseborough, brings a more human dynamic to the film, even with some dodgy dialogue. Oblivion looks quite promising up until it starts to creak under the story’s weight, its tangled and half-baked details slowly drifting from viewers’ attention, who by the third act, become aware of its uncertain direction and running time.
Eventually Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko make their entrances, but fail to add anything other than story propulsion to the mix. Oblivion could be described as an empty shell – it’s a fairly decent narrative, but lacks subtlety, message (which could be the irresponsibility, vulnerability, or subordination of humanity), and character exploration, using its exterior qualities as a driving force. Riseborough, Kurylenko and Cruise do well considering the film’s two-dimensionality, but see Oblivion for extended immersive and indulgent visuals that caught your attention in the trailer.
VERDICT: Kosinski handles the scale of his tale well, but the acute details of his characters aren’t touched upon. That said, it turns out alright, despite a shaky script and a messy finale.★★★