Cinema review – Oblivion

Oblivion with Tom Cruise
Oblivion with Tom Cruise

I’m sure Tom Cruise didn’t consider his career would follow the definition of the title of his latest film and it probably won’t.

But while Oblivion is good, it’s not great and that’s what Tom Cruise’s film should be, especially with a budget of $120m.

Following a devastating alien invasion in 2017 Earth is a desolate place and 60 years later it is the job of Jack Harper (Cruise) to maintain robot drones, which keep alien scavengers at bay from machinery that is extracting the planet’s remaining resources.

Leading an uneventful life together with his co-worker Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) Harper’s dreams are haunted by a mysterious woman in pre-war New York.

When this woman appears for real, Harper begins to question a lot more than just who she is and why she has arrived.

Joseph Kosinski directs this and like his previous film Tron: Legacy, he puts a lot of effort into the aesthetics of the film and the sound.

Indeed, the score by M83 is fantastic and reminded me closely of the synthesized, haunting notes of Vangelis’ Blade Runner and the techno masterpiece Daft Punk delivered in Kosinski’s Tron.

However good looks and sound do not make a film.

Yes, they certainly help it to convey things as in Jaws; but cinema audiences need something to hold them, in this case for over two hours.

Oblivion does have it, but not enough of it.

Sure, the basic premise is interesting but once things start to develop and the twists happen (there are a lot so you’ll need to keep up) it seems to lose its way.

The action is great with good effects and the drones have an intimidating impact with their warning noises and impressive “features”, but it becomes reliant on these twists which are very familiar.

I have no problem with films using ideas from other movies, in fact several blockbusters have taken direct inspiration from others; but I felt that in using so many Oblivion tried to do too much.

As such it diluted itself and failed to reach the standard I expect from a Tom Cruise movie.

He plays the role as he does every other, with the same charismatic performance we expect, which of course isn’t a bad thing but again there’s something missing.

The mystery woman is played by Olga Kurylenko and whereas her character has a bit more personality to it she doesn’t quite fulfil its potential.

Andrea Riseborough on the other hand is severely limited by her on-screen persona’s restrictions and consequently cannot display any more of her talent than she does.

Perhaps I’m being harsh as this is undoubtedly a great spectacle with an equally good score, but the potential it had to be a great is hampered by the constant feeling I had that something was missing.

There is good in it but it must be seen on the big screen to enjoy it as best it can.