OBLIVION (Joseph Kosinski, 2013)
OBLIVION at its finest moments, is a stirring ode to humanity. Joseph Kosinski outdid himself this time, creating a futuristic vision that's loads better than TRON LEGACY although TRON LEGACY is on a league of its own greatness.
Fragments of TRON LEGACY can be seen all over OBLIVION (music, production design, and story) with some hints of INCEPTION (without the ambiguous ending) and TOTAL RECALL.
Tom Cruise in sheer, muscular form is Jack Harper, a drone technician who is weeks away from concluding his mission on a now desolate Earth. Alongside him is his communications officer and lover Vika (Andrea Riseborough), and together they are "an effective team". On a routine mission to repair two drones in separate locations, Jack encounters scavengers who try to capture him. But not everything is at it seems.
On a desolate facade, with sunken ships and monuments, Earth is now close to its end. Aliens once tried to steal our moon and succeeded. Now, all of what's left of humanity has migrated to Jupiter's moon Titan, and our waters are being harnessed for energy. Jack and Vika are sent back to Earth to oversee a smooth migration, but somewhere in the deepest recesses of Jack's mind inhabit the most unsettling of memories- of a love that is lost. Or is it a deception? Or a foreshadowing?
OBLIVION works like a riddle during its first and second acts, with the story propelling from one point to another, until Kosinski takes us on a journey into the absurd. Unlike INCEPTION though, there is an explanation at the end of OBLIVION, but the labyrinthine plot progression makes for a guaranteed fun watch. Good thing the twist was revealed via images and not by Morgan Freeman in a voice over.
If you need a character to act as the film's de facto narrator, get Morgan Freeman. he has this innate quality that makes him an authority figure in the movie, which in turn leads us to believe everything he says.
Olga Kurylenko has gone from a generic damsel in distress in HITMAN to Bond Girl to a Sci-Fi chick (although the 'chick' in this Sci-Fi is debatable because Andrea Riseborough renders equal hotness and badassness), but as flight crew Julia Rusakova, I had hoped for more character dynamic, because in the end she isstill the damsel in distress.
"Are you an effective team?" quips Melissa Leo who plays Sally, Jack and Vika's commander. She repeats this throughout the movie in a mantra that you'd suspect something is wrong with her. Or with the setup of the story. Ah plot giveaways!
I liked the nostalgic tone of the movie, and the throwback to some of the best Sci-Fi films ever produced. Kosinski knows how to spin one entertaining Sci-Fi yarn. I just wonder if those shots of Cruise flexing his muscles were really necessary. Come on, OBLIVION will still work even if Cruise is less macho of a man. He's a spaceship pilot, not Jack Reacher.