Oblivion (2013) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

There is so much I liked about Tom Cruise’s sci-fi adventure film Oblivion that I’m tempted to recommend it. The film’s first hour is full of beautiful images, sweeping music and shots of Cruise doing his steely eyed determination thing. If the movie had only been these parts it would have been short on plot but big on spectacle, alas the second hour renders the story less interesting as it goes along.

Its 2077 and Earth has been left empty due to a devastating war with aliens. Nuclear war has ravaged the planet and left it inhabitable to the masses. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) works as a security drone technician on the desolate blue planet. Jack has two weeks left before his tour on Earth ends and he can join his fellow survivors on a distant colony. However, Jack’s concept of reality comes crashing down after he rescues a beautiful stranger (Olga Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft. The woman’s arrival triggers memories of a different era and a love that haunts Jack’s dreams. This causes the usually reliable Harper to go off grind and join the rebels led by Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman) that culminates in Jack’s single-handed battle to save mankind.

Once again, I must point out the Cruise performance. Oblivion works in part because of the actor’s commitment to the role and film. Often times in fantasy films, actors are dwarfed by their CGI counterparts and environments. This isn’t the case here. Tom Cruise works tirelessly to convince the audience that something of great importance is happening while the screenplay proves otherwise. The last few scenes of the film are nearly incomprehensible on a first viewing and I find it hard to believe most will be going back for second helpings. Visionary director Joseph Kosinski is a brilliantly talented filmmaker with a strong visual style and a knack for staging bold scenes accompanied by fantastic music. Oblivion is a near miss but is also not to be missed. Can you tell I’m conflicted?

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko

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