Wilson Mizner said, “If you steal from one author, that’s plagiarism, if you steal from many, it’s research” in which case Oblivion is the greatest piece of research that has ever been created. A science fiction film that plays like a greatest hits of other sci-fi or the Eye Spy Book of Sci-Fi Movies.
Oblivion ‘borrows’ from a huge range of sources including, Moon, WALL-E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Silent Running, Soylent Green, The Matrix, Independence Day, Serenity, Predator and Prometheus, to name a few of the pictures being pilfered here.
Set on an apocalyptic earth an alien invasion has destroyed the moon and left Earth a wilderness, the human race has fled to Titan and only a handful of operative are left on the planet, working from high level towers, above the cloud, monitoring the drones that defend the machines that are hoovering up the sea to create energy for the new colony out in the solar system.
Living in their iHome is Tom Cruise, playing Jack, the operative and his handler and co-pilot Victoria, who remains in the tower, played impeccably by Andrea Riseborough. The couple share a strange relationship and Jack has frustrating dreams where he sees a woman he doesn’t know. Both characters have had their memories wiped before they were stationed on the planet and Cruise’s character is desperate to find out the truth. A ship crashes into the planet and on board is a pod containing a woman, unsurprisingly the woman from Jack’s dreams. Played by Olga Kurylenko Julia is the third part of the love triangle and holds the secrets to Jack’s restless existence.
Exploring the relationships and revelations from here would have produced an interesting, contained sci-fi movie that could have been wholly satisfying, unfortunately to justify the budget it needs to be bigger and so Cruise heads out into the planet where he meets with Morgan Freeman’s Beech, the leader of a team of humans who have remained on the planet and are fighting a revolution to expose the truth about the planet and what occurred. This intervention is entirely pointless. The plot develops exactly as you would expect and contains not one single surprise.
While Kurylenko and Riseborough both put in strong performances Cruise is cringe worthy. From his triumphant opening monologue to a sequence where he reenacts a historical football game, his is a performance so pleased with itself, so conceited that it is a wonder that his own drones don’t rebel and kill him on the spot for being such a prick.
Director Joseph Kosinski previously brought us Tron:Legacy and he manages to even steal from this, he clearly has an eye for design and for creating a futuristic world and landscape, unfortunately when it comes to telling a coherent story, delivering surprises or containing a egomaniacal actor he is found severely lacking.
If you have no interest in sci-fi and want to get a Fisher Price guide to the major ideas in the canon then Oblivion can serve as your guide, it is however light years behind every single film that it has stolen from.
- 27 Hi-Res Images from OBLIVION Featuring Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (collider.com)
- 20 New Stills From Oblivion Starring Tom Cruise (emileeid.com)
- New ‘Oblivion’ Image Gallery & Featurettes: Mysterious Enemies & ‘Prehistoric’ Future (screenrant.com)
- Joseph Kosinski interview: Oblivion, trailers, Tom Cruise and IMAX (musingsofamildmanneredman.com)
- Joe Kosinski Fetes Cruise at ‘Oblivion’ Preem (variety.com)