Tom Cruise‘s latest action adventure is the post apocalyptic sci fi romp Oblivion. Set around 65 years in the future, Jack Harper (Cruise) and his effective team-mate Victoria are stationed on earth to clean up after an alien invasion resulted in nuclear war. The human race has been evacuated to Titan, and only a huge space station (known as the Tet) along with Jack and Victoria on earth remain.
The arrival of Olga Kurylenko as Julia signals the start of the action and shifts the tone of the film entirely. The first part drags slighty, but from the moment of Julia’s arrival it is a race between Jack and the audience to see who can work out what is really going on first. The action sequences are varied enough to be interesting, and short enough that you don’t get bored. Morgan Freeman plays, well, Morgan Freeman frankly. The role is stoic and authoritative, with a rebellious nature and a whole lot of wisdom. He brings some much needed warmth and humanity to the film, which up until this point is very cold and robotic, with good reason.
Julia and Jack’s relationship unfolds with the bizarre backdrop of a deserted earth, and their connection is what drives the latter half of the film. Olga Kurylenko’s performance was touching and she wasn’t completely left to be the damsel in distress as she donned her space suit and battled alongside Tom Cruise. The moments of relief in the film come in a surprisingly organic way, meaning that this post apocalyptic adventure is not nearly as dark and miserable and it has the potential to be.
The huge sweeping shots of a desolate and destroyed earth (more specifically, New York) become wearing after a while, but there is no doubt that a lot of effort went into the special effects and the choice of Iceland as a location for post apocalyptic NYC appears to have paid off as the collapsed Empire State building provides the backdrop to some haunting and emotional scenes.
For me, Oblivion felt like Tron vs The Matrix, with vast landscapes, even shots on a motorbike, and plot twists a plenty. Joseph Kosinski, writer, director, producer, and anything else you can be on a film set, conveniently was also the director of Disney’s Tron reboot, Tron:Legacy. The films have a similar tone to them, and there is definitely an element of a young boy’s fantasy world in Oblivion.
As soon as Oblivion gets a kick start from the entrance of Julia, the pace picks up and the audience finally engages with Jack, whose existence has seemed pointless and dull up until this point. If you can handle the 45 minutes or so of set up, then Oblivion is absolutely worth it for some classic Cruise action.