It was a sunny day out and I woke up late and lazed about in bed, having worked late last night. As I giggled at a kitten video, I received a message from TW asking if I wanted to catch Oblivion in an hour-and-a-half. Feeling a little guilty about having wasted the large portion of the morning doing nothing in bed, I thought it was a good idea to go out and get some sun. All I knew about the movie was that it featured aliens and Tom Cruise (is it because he’s into scientology that so many of his movies deal with aliens?), and an upbeat action movie seemed like just the thing to shake off my inertia and kick off a weekend of fun.
Oh boy was I wrong.
Oblivion features Tom Cruise as a Jack, high-tech technician maintaining drones which patrol a devastated earth, fighting off alien “scavengers” while humankind collects energy in preparation for a mass-migration to Titan, one of Jupiter’s moons. He is joined in this task only by Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), his live-in communications officer/wife. They are an “effective team”, behaving professionally whilst on the clock whilst enjoying a sexual relationship once off it. Jack suffers from mysterious dreams of another woman, and is plagued with doubts about whether leaving for Titan is the best thing. Two weeks before the end of their mission and their due date to return to the space station–the “Tent”, they pick up a mysterious signal coming from the Empire State building, and their mission is put into jeopardy.
There’s a twist after the this, so I won’t say more about the plot in case you do decide to go watch it.
I will say that the twist is so obvious after the first thirty minutes that you begin to wonder about the intelligence level of the main characters. And sadly, even though the twist should have CHANGED EVERYTHING, very little about the pace and tempo of the movie actually did.
Oblivion tries to play with themes of isolation, identity, survival and the meaning of being human. Unfortunately, it just bores you.
The first half-hour of the movie is dedicated to the minutiae of Jack and Victoria’s life, where the *wrongness* of their existence is hammered home in a thousand ways, from Victoria’s posh british accent to the glass cage of a home they live in. We’re treated to long, tiresome shots of their quarters–reminiscent of the kind of douchebag apartment so popular with the investment-banker set, together with lingering shots of Tom Cruise’s and Andrea Riseborough‘s beautiful bodies. Overall, I think I spent more time marvelling at the lack of wrinkles on Tom Cruise’s face than I did caring about what was going to happen.
You have to give Tom credit for looking as good as he does for 50(!).
Unfortunately, by the time the twist occurs and we understand why things are the way they are, it already feels like I’ve watched a very, very long perfume commercial. There’s a lot of style, without much substance underneath. Despite being a sci-fi movie about the power of human innovation and desire for freedom, the characters are yoked under cliched lines and decisions that would have been more appropriate in a slasher flick. At some points in the movie I wanted to cheer for the murderous drones and for the idiots to just die.
Oddly, the movie seems to be filled with tongue-in-cheek references to Tom Cruise’s career. I kept thinking of American Psycho because of the scenes in the apartment (Christian Bale took Tom Cruise as inspiration for that role), Top Gun from a pair of aviators, and Mission Impossible from a zipline scene. And of course, it’s Tom and another movie about aliens. I’d have to watch it to be sure (I won’t), but once I started playing the game it kind of cheapened the whole “humanity is on the line” tone of the movie.
Would not recommend. Unless you’re a very rich investment banker looking to get into the pants of some chick, in which case the combination of Tom Cruise’s dreamy looks and happy-ever-after ending might be enough to get you laid.