Oblivion (2013) Directed by Joseph Kosinski. With Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko
Idea for Top Gun II. A 50yr old Maverick, still played by Tom Cruise, is transported 60yrs into the future. Cast Jamie Lannister as Iceman and the only reason to watch Quantum of Solace as Kelly McGillis. Then mix in everything you’ve ever seen in sci-fi including Planet of the Apes, Independence Day, Star Wars, The Matrix, Moon, The Terminator, Silent Running, 2001: ASO…etc etc, and well, you’ve got yourself a hit, or in this case, Oblivion.
Joking aside, Oblivion isn’t all that bad. Sure it’s a patchwork of every iconic concept that ever surfaced out of Hollywood in the past 40-yrs, but it’s entertaining and visually arresting enough to get away with being a brazenly-packaged greatest hits of stolen ideas.
Taking centre stage, and with his usual brand of Tom Cruiseness, our hero is like a cross between Wall-E and Ethan Hunt. The central plot is enjoyable, although what it has in visual spectacle, it lacks in emotional depth. Granted, in a film this size, with this much money spent ($120m), it takes special artistry to deliver the full package and although it attempts to engage us on a higher level, it struggles against its own tide, with such a familiar face constantly informing us of other things. In a way, it’s mildly prejudiced to say that, but it’s often hard to escape the notion that a lesser known actor might have paved the way for easier emotional access. That said, Cruise does the action man stuff well.
The film’s strongest points, like the director’s previous film, Tron: Legacy, are its visuals; sleek, futuristic interiors, set against the backdrop of a decaying world are striking and beautifully designed. Mixed in with the impressive landscapes, the CGI is often enjoyable and well applied. Director Joseph Kosinski does a good job of handling the overall pace and although a reminder of better films is never far away, there might come a point when you’ve stopped trying to count the visual references and are just taking it for what it is.
In all, Oblivion is a film you’ve seen before and its ideas belong to an array of better films. What remains is a jigsaw of recognisable pieces arranged in a different order. It is easy on the eye, however, and makes for enjoyable light viewing, given the right mood. 3.5/5