Critic’s Corner: Cruise Sinks into ‘Oblivion’

This weekend Oblivion hit the box offices and is reported to have made $38.2 million. Although highly intriguing due to the casting of Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman, this movie is not all what it’s hyped up to be. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Tom Cruise’s new science fiction movie is set in the year 2077 after an attack on earth 60 years earlier—the aliens responsible, called Scavengers, also destroyed the moon.

After the tectonic and nuclear chaos, earth’s surviving humans moved to a colony on Saturn’s moon Titan. Jack Harper (Cruise) is a technician stationed on Earth where he lives with his partner and lover Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). Harper’s team is responsible for maintaining an operation that harnesses the earth’s water power to support life on the colony planet. It is clear that although Jack works hard at drone maintenance and hunting the landscape for Scavengers, he still considers life on earth enjoyable and does not want to leave to live on Titan. Due to their high security work, Jack and Victoria had their memories wiped five years earlier.

The plot seems suspicious once the information about the memory swipe is revealed, and slowly the story picks up and becomes very intriguing. Jack has flashbacks of another woman, and things start to feel strange to him when he investigates a crash in his area.

The movie has many classic sci-fi elements such as distorted signals from space, a large space station floating above the planet, and cool laser guns to shoot bad guys, but the story is really lacking in creativity. “Oblivion” tries very hard to be an epic sci-fi achievement, but ultimately fails. The large space station is just a big, triangle-shaped Death Star and as the plot unfolds, none of the twists really surprise the audience and little is explained. The situation with the space station is never clearly explained and there are confusing bits of memory flashbacks, and some continuity questions are raised.

It’s highly disappointing to see Freeman in a role so poorly written. Actress Olga Kurylenko’s performance was questionable and, although the cast was small and simple, a stronger performer should have been cast in her role. The film was riddled with cheesy romance scenes that made it hard to believe Harper had a personal attachment to anyone. A simplistic character, Harper had little to do in the film beyond walking around and “playing the games” orchestrated by the higher forces of power. Cruise played his traditional character that kicks ass, shoots things and saves the day with his “go get ‘em” attitude.

Not a lot of planning or deep thinking in this film. To make things worse, the film kept getting cheesier and cheesier. By the final scene, the story is exhausting and the ending was weak.

The film’s greatest selling point is that it features “not horrible” performances from Cruise and Freeman and all the women are attractive. Other than babes and bland drama, the film doesn’t have much going for it. If you’re a big Cruise or Freeman fan, you might check this film out, but I really don’t recommend it. It’s a waste of time and money and a disappointment to the sci-fi genre.

Veronica may be reached at [email protected]