‘Oblivion:’ That’s About Right

In Oblivion, Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman is Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Olga Kurylenko is Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andrea Riseborough is thoroughly British, and Melissa Leo is the worst.

As you know from the trailer that you have inevitably sat through a bajillion times, Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, a member of the “mop up crew,” a team of two whose job it is to repair drones and protect the resources left on Earth after an extremely vaguely identified war took place. Well, really Jack does all the exploring in his futuristic bubble plane while his assigned partner/lover?/wife?, Victoria (Riseborough), sits at a fancy, technological computer desk and looks worried. We do not know what this war was about or really whom it was against (though it is “explained” that an alien race, maybe, called “Skavs” are to blame for the trouble), it is made very clear, over and over, that we won the war. But we lost the planet.

Humans fled earth to Titan, where they live in a space society that, in my head, is not entirely unlike that of Zenon: Girl of The 21st Century. Sally (Melissa Leo) gives Jack and Victoria their assignments from the Tet, the very official and pyramidal space station, through static-ridden, cult-ish videos in which she never fails to ask if they are an “effective team” and promises them admission to Titan once their mission is complete. On Titan, they will join the rest of humanity in using all the resources from Earth that Jack is protecting until they run out and the human race wastes away and is gone forever (that second part isn’t addressed in the movie. I’m just thinking ahead here).

The real problem is that Jack is a big softy who kinda liked Earth, and even though he went through the mandatory memory swipe, he is haunted by dreams of a mysterious woman who looks a lot like CZJ, and he reads too many books. Basically, he’s real emo. And as Jack begins to remember more, he also ends up face to face with Morgan Freeman, a caped and spectacled truthmonger. Jack learns that, surprise, surprise, the way things are, well, they aren’t really the ways things are.

Director Joseph Kosinski is primarily a commercial director, and I bring that up because there are some very well crafted thirty to sixty second clips in Oblivion, single minutes that would play well as trailers or ads, but offer little as far as being actual scenes in an actual movie. The story is vague and very character driven, although its main character is about as one dimensional as the picture on the screen we watch it on. The plot is like an eggshell, a thin and easily breakable outline that is filled with a soft, mushy semblance of an emotional character piece that could have been dressed up and interestingly flavored but is just pretty bland on its own.

A sci-fi movie with little in the way of character or plot should be saved by kick ass action sequences. But the visuals are bleak, and the action is mostly predictable and flat. And finally, it’s a sprinkle of the Oprah couch incident and a heaping helping of Scientology that make me just not even able to look at Tom Cruise and see anything but his public, fairly unhinged persona. He is now always cast as doggedly determined idealists who have a one-track mind, a penchant for getting involved in dangerous things, and a disregard for “the rules.” It’s all he can do anymore, and it is really very tired. I do not know what is next for Tom Cruise, but I hope it’s something…else.

Grade: C-

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Righty O
Righty O
9 years ago

And Tom’s “religion” was made up by a guy who wrote science fiction novels and believes that aliens “seeded” our planet! Or, he’s a fucking douche.

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