It’s fair to say that Tom Cruise has lost a lot of his cool over recent years and while it would be easy to say that his films have dried up too, the reality is that he’s still able to pull out an impressive performance here and there. In sci-fi action adventure, Oblivion, he does just that. With equally sharp performances from Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me), Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough (Birdman), it’s a surprise combination that works well in the Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy) directed jaw dropper.
Cruise plays Tech 49, Jack Harper, who’s sole responsibility is to protect giant hydro-power stations that are sucking up sea water to convert into energy. He’s stationed on Earth following 60 years of nuclear fall-out which has ravaged the planet after an alien invasion was prevented through the launch of the Earth’s nuclear arsenal. He’s guided on missions in a stunningly futuristic air craft by is his partner, Victoria (Riseborough), to prevent the remnants of the alien invasion, the Scavs, from attacking the hydro-stations.
The rest of humanity have moved to Saturn’s moon, Titan, leaving the pair to finish off the resource harvest, before joining them. Despite the fact that both have had their memories erased to prevent them from being able to provide information to the Scavs if they are ever captured, Jack suffers from a recurring dream of a girl played by Kurylenko. When events start to get increasingly bizarre, the world that they know is pulled from underneath them at terrifying pace.
Though Cruise is a little too obvious in the delivery of his lines in the opening sequences of the film, it soon passes and you stop seeing him and start to buy into the situation. However, it’s the dialogue and relationship dynamic between him, Riseborough and Kurylenko that really brings the film alive, creating a tense and heart tugging situation that’s difficult not to get drawn into.
When it was released, the trailer really didn’t do the film a great deal of justice (honestly, you’re better off not watching it before seeing the film), especially Morgan Freeman’s random sun glasses character. Luckily, Freeman, and the movie itself, turned out to be a lot better than expected. Delivering his trademark deep toned gravitas with a larger than life build, Freeman’s character turns out to be a compelling addition to Oblivion.
As well as the strength of the performances of the cast, it also has a brilliant sci-fi story that takes a lot of inspiration from the great science fiction movies of the last 40 to 50 years. It’s woven with a lot of skill and unfolds with impact as the mysteries of Jack and Victoria’s life from the top of their security tower, replete with an amazing glass bottomed swimming pool, slowly develop.
The story is backed up with some of the best sets, CGI and special effects we’ve seen this year. Every scene is visually stunning, whether it’s a sunset over the mountains or a drone pod firing wildly. It’s the kind of film you’d watch as much for the style as the story, combining futuristic machinery with some beautiful backdrops.
Oblivion may not have raised expectations from us beforehand, but it has definitely surprised with good performances, a great storyline and breathtaking visuals. If you haven’t seen it, but love epic sci-fi films then you won’t be disappointed with this. It’ll grab your attention immediately and won’t let you off your tenterhooks until the credits start to roll. Though the ending would have been better left with a little more ambiguity, it doesn’t take away from a welcome addition to the science fiction movie archives.
Oblivion review: 4/5