Oblivion is inspired by countless sci-fi flicks. I can go on mentioning the names of the movies it took inspiration in one breath. It borrows from so many films, you could start a game of “spot-the-reference” the moment you settle into your seat. There’s a little Total Recall, Minority Report, Moon and Wall-E in there, while the mid-air action scenes have a distinct Top Gun feel to them.
The plot is also very predictable. One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands.
The film’s visual palette is minimalist yet spectacular, particularly the open vistas of a nuclear-ravaged Earth, with the tops of famous landmarks poking out through the dust. Cruise jets around the place in a futuristic helicopter, being chased by drones, narrowly missing the sides of mountains…these bits are thrilling, and Cruise performs them with a nice balance of nervous energy and cool confidence. But much like his last film, Tron: Legacy, writer-director Joseph Kosinski has created an eye-popping but unengaging experience.
Over the longest two hours and five minutes of your life, Oblivion packs in a mawkish story about a brave human determined to control his own destiny. There are too many twists that add little value here, and the climax appears intentionally obtuse. Despite setting up its premise with genuine intrigue, the film quickly leaves you puzzled, then exhausted by its lethargic pace. Tom Cruise, oozing movie-star charisma, does his best to salvage this dreary enterprise, but is let down by the stilted script.
Jack’s inner journey, which should have been the film’s focal point, never feels even remotely authentic. And don’t even get me started on Morgan Freeman, who shows up in an all-black superhero-like rubber suit, complete with cape and dust-shielding glasses!
I’m going with two and a half stars for Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion. It ends with a predictable ending and not well filmed. The tension at the end could’ve been faster in pace. It’s not bad but could have been a lot better.