Tom Cruise’s latest starrer, “Oblivion,” is not all that easy to follow, because it has an unusually intricate and recondite back story. In the interest of clearer appreciation, therefore, we’re starting off with a thumbnail sketch of that background story:
The sci-fi movie is called a “post-apocalyptic” production, because it’s set in 2073, after the near-destruction of our planet by an alien race determined to harvest our vital natural resources for its own use.
Cruise is cast as a drone repairman who oversees the ravaged planet’s security, even as the human race’s few survivors now live on one of the moons of another planet. Imagine Cruise’s character’s shock, therefore when he discovers a secret insurgency led by an old man played by Morgan Freeman, who inform him that everything he’s been told to date is a complete fabrication, and that his all-powerful supervisor is not who she says she is.
What to do? Cruise, whose memory has been almost completely erased to make him easy to manipulate, has to recover as much of his actual self and recollections as possible. He’s able to do this enough to realize that the spaceship crash survivor he’s saved from certain death is in fact his wife from his “forgotten” life! It takes a lot of effort, but they are eventually able to team up with the insurgents to beat the alien “gods” at their cold and cruel game.
Joseph Kosinski’s film is initially eyecatching, effectively creating its own “future world” to situate the movie’s back story in the here and now. After a while, however, the production comes off as too stark and distant to effectively encourage viewer empathy.
Yes, Cruise’s character may be an easily manipulated creature programmed to do his distant master’s bidding, but after he rediscovers who he really is, we expect his more human and emotional side to come to the fore.
Alas, this doesn’t happen forcefully enough, so the viewer can appreciate the production’s visual and sci-fi virtues, but still remains in the emotive dark.
Still, Cruise should be credited for retaining his youthful looks and energy, despite the passing of many years since “Top Gun” and the other films of his youth.
But, it would have been better if his performance in his latest starrer could have benefited from the thespic lessons he’s learned along the way, instead of simply being smugly satisfied to end up as a totemic tribute to “ageless” physical perfection!