Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
2077. Its been 60 years since the last Super Bowl was held. Earth is now a radioactive nightmare following an alien attack. After destroying the moon, and turning Earth into a topsy-turvy world of earthquakes and tsunamis, the aliens came down to the surface. Thanks to nuclear weapons we won the battle. But we lost the war, as the planet was no longer habitable. The remains of the human race now reside on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, while what remains of Earth is patrolled by mechanical drones. They are there to hunt and destroy the few remaining aliens who remain. Of course where there are mechanical objects there must be a mechanic to fix them. Mechanic #49 is named Jack Harper (Cruise). He goes about his job daily, fixing drones and blasting the occasional alien. The daytime goes pretty well for Jack. But at night he’s haunted by a recurring dream featuring himself and a beautiful young woman (Kurylenko). It is a dream, isn’t it?
An ambitious film with a story that begins to slip into camp, “Oblivion” could have been a great addition to the science fiction genre’. Unfortunately, after a strong first half, we’re dealt with some plot points that defy credibility. Jack is living the sweet life with Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who serves many functions. Technically she is Jack’s air traffic controller. It’s her job to assign his work and then direct him where he needs to go. She’s also his eyes when he’s on the planet’s surface, always on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. The two are also a romantic couple, spending their off hours swimming in their rooftop pool and counting the days until they are relieved of their post and allowed to join the rest of the world on Titan. Each morning Victoria gets her orders from Sally (Melissa Leo), who ends each daily exchange with the same question: “Are You An Effective Team?”
Despite a strong performance by Cruise, as well as a fine supporting turn by Morgan Freeman, “Oblivion” begins to lose steam when Jack tracks a returning spaceship to the planet, discovering several occupied life pods. Trained to kill any humans not cleared in their systems, the drones kill all but one of the ship’s crew. Before they can kill the last one Jack intervenes and the drone stands down. When he opens the pod he is stunned to see the same woman who has been filling his dreams. He takes her to Victoria, but she is not pleased to see her. She begins to feel that she and Jack are no longer an Effective Team! But her love for Jack keeps her from notifying Sally that there may be a problem with the mission, though she’s not sure what.
As I noted above, “Oblivion” could have been great. However, once the mystery woman appears the film begins to slip away. One major error kept screaming to me during the remainder of the film. Even though the mystery woman is in her underwear when found, and her ship is destroyed, she keeps showing up in various outfits that include her name. Where did they come from? Why do they fit so well? And why does the music get extra loud when I ask myself these questions?
On the positive side, the film features an amazing array of special effects, including such incredible set pieces like a deserted New York library or a former ocean, now a barren patch of land with moored battleships littered upon it. If only as much time was spent on the too-predictable story as was spent on the special effects.