Oblivion (2013) (PG-13)

"Oblivion" is the sophomore work of director Joseph Kosinski, whose previous work "Tron: Legacy" was nice to look at but maybe didn't dazzle in the way that it should have. Although I did enjoy his first work, I was hoping that he would expand his reach and encompass something a little more mature...and with "Oblivion" I feel that he did.
Earth is a thing of the past. Humans are now living on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. Nuclear war has ripped the earth apart leaving almost no life and radiation pockets that are deadly and silent. But Jack and Victoria are still on earth and they are extracting the last of the resources. They have two weeks left before they will be shuttled off to Titan.
The Scavs are the alien race with which earth was engaged in the nuclear war. Jack, in a voiced-over narration makes it clear to the viewer on more than one occasion that earth won the war...but at what cost?
Having to relocate an entire planet is no easy feat.
The year is 2077, the war started in 2017. Sixty years have been dedicated to the permanent migration of earth's people and the final touches are being made.
"Oblivion" is a sleek picture. The art direction, cinematography, and score are all almost beyond critique. The way that "Oblivion" is shot, the sweeping and tracking, unflinching shots give the viewer enough reason to stick with the movie. This is one movie that is so hard to look away from because it is almost hypnotic to watch.
Tom Cruise plays Jack, a man who doesn't always play by the rules. He is opposite Andrea Riseborough's Victoria, a woman who is defined by the rule books. Victoria is looking forward to the trip to Titan, her work will be complete; but Jack has his reservations. He's not entirely won over by the idea of moving—he likes to think of earth as his home.
Even though it's been over half a century since earth was obliterated, he still holds onto some relics like his Yankees hat.
But somethings are starting to not add up: missions that randomly have to be aborted and malfunctioning drones. The Scavs are still on earth, though their numbers are few and they're trying to outwit Jack and Victoria. It's basically two against an unknown number. Our pair have the fire power but the Scavs have the knowledge of the land.
Whenever the Scavs have an opportunity they destroy whatever they can get their hands on that Jack and Victoria are in charge of, they do so with pleasure.
"Oblivion" seems to tackle a number of different genres: conspiracy, mystery, romance, and action—but I'm not sure that it managed to master even one of these.
The script, while better than Kosinski's last picture (he had a different pair of writers), isn't a perfect piece of art. Tom Cruise isn't the best actor in the film though he gives a fair performance.
The biggest fault with "Oblivion" is the treatment of Olga Kurylenko who is a great actress but just stands in almost silence for the entire movie. She could have been experiencing so many emotions but is given no opportunity to do this.
"Oblivion" brings thoughts to my mind of the 2009 "Star Trek" and of "District 9" though it is not half as gritty as that film.
As I said before, this film is really great to look at. I'm not sure any other film has been this attractive.
I liked "Oblivion" a surprising amount. It may become silly in parts but it does hold its own as entertaining and thrilling, if not all the way through.
It's worth seeing if just for the visual aspect.

Score: 3 out of 4 stars

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