I’ve been excited to see Oblivion since the trailer came out, but it isn’t the mind-bending sci-fi film I was hoping for. Though it has a promising premise — a man on a postapocalyptic Earth is troubled by vivid memories of a world he supposedly wasn’t alive to witness — it throws lackluster wrenches into the plot and settles for a ho-hum resolution. Jack (Tom Cruise) is one half of a maintenance team that repairs resource-sucking drones on what’s left of Earth. He and partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) only have a few weeks left until they get to go back home to the moon outside of Saturn where humans are now residing, but mysterious happenings disrupt their plans.
Cruise and Riseborough have a prickly chemistry that’s interesting to watch, which is helpful since a large portion of the film just stars the two of them. Cruise brings his usual charm to Jack; even on a desolate landscape with only one person in the world to win over, he still grins, cracks jokes, and delivers silly lines with determination. His signature smile and wit can only go so far, though, and it’s not enough to keep this disappointing film afloat. To find out what else I thought of Oblivion, just read more.
Oblivion takes a turn when a ship carrying mysterious stranger Julia (Olga Kurylenko) crash-lands in Jack’s territory and leads to the discovery of a group of survivors on Earth (a troop headed by Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Freeman is usually the highlight of films he’s in, but in this case, his presence is limited, and as soon as his character shows up, the plot (filled with run-of-the mill sci-fi tropes like clones and evil robots) gets muddled and confusing.
On the positive side, Oblivion does feature breathtaking set designs. Most of the film takes place on an abandoned Earth, but if you really look at the scenery, Jack isn’t just racing through a desert; it’s the bottom of the ocean after the water has evaporated, complete with old battle ships submerged in the sand. Jack even has a secret lakeside cabin that he’s filled with all the prewar artifacts he’s found.
There are little touches everywhere that make the film visually fascinating, so it’s a shame the story isn’t as memorable. Oblivion treads generic sci-fi territory with twists and turns we’ve seen before, but it also goes way past complex and ends with a cop-out.