Recently, Tom Cruise has never been my cup of tea. I’ve only enjoyed his newer films when they were made by capable directors (i.e. Brad Bird – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; Ben Stiller – Tropic Thunder). So when I heard that Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski was at the helm for Oblivion, I was not looking forward to it. This is a case where I am glad to have been proved wrong.
Set on a post-apocalyptic earth (yes, more of that… but this one’s good), Oblivion tells the story of Jack (Cruise), a future-government field agent whose job it is – along with hundreds of other agents – to search the ruins of civilization for clues as to what happened in the war between humans and extraterrestrials. But everything he knows about this war is skewed and incomplete, leading him to be curious and inquisitive about the whole thing. Keeping him on track is his right-hand gal/mistress Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who gets in Jack’s way as he discovers the truth about his and Victoria’s existence and a rogue band of humans that he thought the world forgot. Riseborough’s performance is worth the price of admission. Her mannered, by-the-book characterizations go from cute and humorous to oppressive and downright scary as she begins to feel betrayed by her lover. The other aspect of Oblivion that makes it worth seeing is its gorgeous cinematography and crystal-clear special effects. Kosinski obviously has an eye for technology in science-fiction films, sometimes to the exclusion or detriment of other aspects of film-making. His Tron had its über-cool updated lightcycles covering up for its lack of plot or meaning, but here, that’s not an issue. The amazing futuristic visuals help bolster a story that’s not fantastic or completely original, but that’s a solid one and fun to see play out.
Oblivion probably wasn’t supposed to be this good. But I’ll take what I can get. Kosinski is a talented visual artist, and now that he’s been given the gifts of a solid script and a better-form Tom Cruise, he gets major cool points from me.
– George Napper