Sixty years after humanity won the battle for earth, the planet is a wasteland and humankind has relocated to Titan; one of Saturn’s moons. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are among the last humans remaining, tasked with running drones to ensure the safety of the planet. When a ship crash-lands on earth, Jack discovers that all is not as he has been told.
Tom Cruise has been a busy man of late, and his hectic workload shows no sign of letting up with his first foray into the world of sci-fi since War of the Worlds in 2005. Jack Harper – another Jack, what gives, Tom? – is the kind of character that Tom Cruise is good at playing; adventurous and nostalgic with a mystery to be solved. Cruise allows Jack to be curious without being disregarding of his orders, and he also makes the character an American everyman, the kind that we, as audience members, love to love. That said, there are moments where Cruise’s performance feels like many others that he has done in the past. This, however, is what Tom Cruise does and in this instance, he does it well.
Andrea Riseborough plays Victoria, a character who appears to be warm and caring, but has a passion of following the rules, and a complete lack of curiosity. Riseborough excels in the role, and in the brief moments on screen, she shows her warmth and versatility as an actress. Olga Kurylenko also gets a chance to show some versatility as an actress, and she is the perfect balance to Jack.
Filmed in Iceland, Oblivion looks absolutely beautiful. The landscape plays on the idea of desolation, but this barren landscape is also complex and beautiful. The CGI is virtually seamless and the ‘futuristic’ tech is just close enough to what we already have to be believable.
Writer /Director Joseph Kosinski has created a film that pays homage to the sci-fi films of the past that inspired it. The story is actually rather simple, so the focus of the film becomes the landscape and Jack’s inner conflict and curiosity. This means that the film is an incredibly slow burn, but it is so darn pretty – and the drones are actually quite amusing – that this really doesn’t matter. Oblivion is a tidal wave – especially in IMAX – and it is best to allow yourself to be swept along.
Oblivion feels like a combination of Wall-E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon and many other great films, but these elements are wonderfully combined. Tom Cruise’s performance feels familiar, and the film drags its heels at times, but overall Oblivion is a big, bold and beautiful blockbuster about the end of the world… Again.