Tom Cruise and Science Fiction are an effective team, as he elevates what could have been just another predictable popcorn flick into the first certified blockbuster of the summer.
Oblivion takes place 70 years in the future on a post-apocalyptic earth (don’t worry there are no zombies or talking apes to cliché it up) that has been destroyed in a battle with an Alien race known as “Scavs”. We won the war but laid waste to our own planet in the process, but isn't that always the case? For once I would love to see an Alien war end with maybe just Ohio being leveled. Anyhell... We follow Technician Jack Harper as he starts the final two weeks before retirement working on the contaminated earth as a drone Repairman. “We’re the mop up crew,” Harper explains as he plays amateur explorer while flying over the decaying monuments of old New York in his all white helipad. Jack isn’t alone, his partner/lover Victoria, played with fire crotch fury by Andrea Riseborough, utilizing the type of stoic sex appeal that makes you wish this was a Cinamax soft-core movie that would allow Ms. Riseborough to let loose Emmanuelle In Space style. Perversion aside, the movie sets up the first act nicely, painting Jack as the sentimental “Last Man on Earth” and Victa as the by the books, “the job comes first” Eve to his Adam. Guiding Victa and Jack on their final mission is Sally, a NASA Commander operating from aboard the Tet, a hovering Illuminati symbol above earth that is now home to all the humans who evacuated after the war. Sally, played by the always electric Melissa Leo in an unforgettable Texas drawl, checks in each morning making sure the last people on earth are keeping the battle drones repaired and working as an “Effective team”.
Is Oblivion worth your $12 at the box office?
First off you have to be able to suspend your disbelief as in any sci-fi flick because Oblivion makes up it’s own set of rules on the fly. I advise not to over think the plot holes in the beginning and just go along for the ride. Still, even while giving it the standard freedom of the sci-fi genre, the film is very convoluted. Anyone who’s seen Total Recall, Wall-E, I Robot, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Planet of the Apes, will recognize familiar plot devices. Jack and Victa had their memories wiped so the Scavs who are still working in nomadic groups on earth won’t be able to interrogate them if ever captured. However, Jack is haunted by memories of Julia, a woman who’s a little prettier than Victa, but lacks that dirty nasty quality, if you know what I mean. Of course it wouldn’t be a movie if this last two weeks on the job wasn’t when the Scavs start to destroy the battle drones that protect the Tet’s power supply, making Jack’s job as the only repairman in the galaxy that much tougher. So with the set up of old memories coming back, two weeks left until he can join the rest of the humans on the Tet, and the Scavs now becoming aggressive—things get interesting, if not a little predictable. Of course Julia, the woman from Jack’s dreams in a pre-apocalyptic New York, crash lands on earth and all hell breaks loose. Julia’s hiding a devastating secret, Victa gets upset that her man is trying to turn their twosum into a threesum, and just when Jack didn’t think it could get any more f**ked, Morgan Freeman’s Scavs kidnap him. An hour into the movie all that Technician Jack Harper thought he knew may not be true—or it may be true—or maybe it’s not true!
The movie is dependent on one huge Twilight Zone type twist at the midpoint. If you’re the type that loves these reveals and won’t overthink it, you’ll be blown away. From that point the movie shifts focus and becomes one part The Fugitive and one part Independence Day, and if it were any actor other than Tom Cruise, this is where the movie would probably fall apart. But Cruise makes you care, so even when the story starts to drag in the third act, you’ll find the patience to stick with it.
In the end Oblivion is a good sci-fi film that suffers from trying to be a little too much like every other classic film of the genre, which inturn keeps it from becoming a great movie itself. To keep it real, the actors transcend their sometimes 2 dimensional characters giving them extra motivation that isn’t necessarily laid out in the script, thus making the thin storyline seem much better than it truly is. Because of the investment you have in these characters, the end of Oblivion resonates much more than it probably should, and even if it is only a temporary high, you feel as though you got your money’s worth. Smartly Directed, masterfully acted, and movie escapism at its finest, Oblivion is definitely worth seeing on the big screen.
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