At the Movies - Oblivion - review

Tom Cruise in 'Oblivion'.
Tom Cruise in 'Oblivion'.
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It’s easy to understand why Universal wanted to avoid any reviews of ‘Oblivion’ leaking into the public domain before it was released - it’s boring, befuddling and laborious.

I’d watched the movie’s trailer countless times online; the landscape of a post-apocalyptic planet earth looked breathtakingly beautiful and with Tom Cruise at the helm, I thought it couldn’t go wrong.

Instead, what I got was two hours plus of a nonsensical plot with utterly one dimensional characters and unapologetic derivation.

Aside from the actual landscape, ‘Oblivion’ is a massive disappointment and does not live up to two of Cruise’s most recent offerings ‘Jack Reacher’ and ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’.

I like Tom Cruise. I think he can act. I watched Tony Scott’s ‘Top Gun’ a few weeks ago and there’s just no getting away from it - it’s an excellent movie.

Cruise’s reputation goes before him but love him or hate him, he has made some tremendously entertaining films. Alas, ‘Oblivion’ is not one of them.

Cruise plays Jack Harper, a drone mechanic living in a pod in the clouds on planet Earth.

Jack reveals that the film is set 60 years after an alien invasion of planet Earth led to the nuclear war and the eventual exodus of mankind to Titan (one of Jupiter’s moons).

Jack and partner Vicka (Andrea Riseborough - ‘Brighton Rock’ and ‘Welcome to the Punch’) are drone mechanics and whilst the rest of mankind has left, they remain behind to ensure the successful harvesting of all of the world hydroelectric energy.

Aliens known as ‘Scavs’ remain on Earth and when he’s not busy looking after the drones that protect the huge hydroelectric harvesters, Jack is blasting the scavs into er... oblivion.

Jack is haunted by dreams he believes to be memories of Earth before the war but his mind has been wiped so to avoid any divulgence of information should be captured by the aliens.

However, when he rescues Julia, a survivor from a crash site, Jack is captured by a group of insurgents led by Malcolm Beech (Freeman - ‘Seven’ and ‘Invictus’) and is forced to question everything he has been told.

Believe me, it took me quite a while to work out what was actually happening during the movie and this was annoying because it distracted me away from appreciating what is a masterful vision of a post-apocalyptic planet Earth.

In the film’s hot seat is ‘Tron: Legacy’ director Joseph Kosinski, who seems to lack any sort of direction here.

Kosinski abounds in skill and guile for making a fictional world look and feel real but like ‘Tron: Legacy’ he has succeeded to do this at the expense of all of the film’s characters’.

Caring about the characters on screen is one of the first signs of a good movie and aside from one or two of them, I couldn’t have cared less.

Cruise is totally underwhelming and the humour that he has abounded in recent films is nowhere to be seen.

Morgan Freeman has been and gone quicker than you can ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and the less said about Olga Kurylenko’s awfully acted Julia the better.

The only person to emerge with any credibility is English actor Andrea Riseborough who manages to evoke some emotion from the audience.

Some of what happens in ‘Oblivion’ is utterly ridiculous - making whoopee in a totally transparent swimming pool above the clouds anyone? - do me a favour. It simply adds fuel to the fire that Kosinski is a director who is all about style as opposed to substance.

It’s so disappointing because had Kosinski devoted equal attention to the actual story, its characters and the film’s landscape I have no doubt that ‘Oblivion’ would have been a much more entertaining experience.

Instead it’s dull, stupefying, unimpassioned and essentially sleep inducing.

If you suffer from insomnia then ‘Oblivion’ could be your cure.

‘Oblivion’ is currently showing at the Brunswick Moviebowl; for full movie listings visit

VERDICT: 1/5 - It’s hard to remember a film that promised so much yet delivered so little. Director Joseph Kosinski has served up an amazing post-apocalyptic world but it’s come at the expense of everything else. Story, characters and script are bitterly dull and at two hours plus many will do well to fight off the temptation of visiting the Land of Nod.