IMG_0087So, what of Oblivion? This is one of those films that I hadn’t been keeping an eye on; it was kind of on my radar because it’s Tom Cruise doing sic-fi but other than that and some cool visuals I hadn’t really taken much of the detail on board, all I knew was that I really wanted to see this as a bit of a Cruise completist. And I’m very glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

Now I know there have been a few (quite a few) reviews that have been pretty ‘meh’ about this film either because they don’t like Cruise (or at the very least find him unconvincing in this role), or feel the film is too reminiscent of a lot of other sci-fi offerings. And it’s true that it is possible to tick off a check list of films from which it has borrowed, but I didn’t find that a problem, largely because lots of sci-fi movies can be looked at in that way (I give you Sunshine, one of my absolute favourites) but also because it works really well here.

The premise is that Earth has been attacked (specifically our Moon) by aliens wanting to make use of our planet’s resources, and humans are scooting off to settle elsewhere in the Solar System but we also need resources to do that so Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are a team based high in the atmosphere maintaining the drones that keep the mining equipment going. They are getting to the end of their mission but Jack is having flashbacks to a past he shouldn’t be able to remember as they both had their memories wiped for security reasons. And then a ship crashes and it becomes obvious that things are not as they seem.

The set-up is cool; the couple’s space base is all windows and water and the ship Jack uses is pretty nifty. Riseborough is very watchable and convincing, wanting her mission to be over so they can start a new life on Titan with everyone else, puzzled by Jack’s reaction to the world around him. Her daily contact with the higher-ups in the form of Melissa Leo’s character is fascinating (“Are you an effective team?”) and her shock at being confronted with something unexpected is genuine.

Tom Cruise is also excellent; although he may be getting a little to old for this sort of action picture and OK, he mostly plays versions of himself these days, he comes across as a thoughtful everyman, questioning his purpose especially when confronted not only by the thing that happens, but the consequences of the thing that happens and his having to confront a situation very different from what he has been led to believe.

Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of the last thirty years or so of sci-fi movies will work out quite a lot of what’s going to happen pretty early on but like a lot of these movies the execution is just as important as the plot, and I liked the way the story worked out. The last 5 minutes could have been left out without harming the film in any way (but I still liked them). And it is visually lovely.

I will be adding it to my must buy list; would happily watch it again.

And if you want a “x meets x” view of the film you could do no better than visiting the Multiplex comic strip where Oblivion was absolutely nailed.

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