The first question that arises after watching Oblivion is simply: who was this movie made for? It isn’t for science fiction buffs, because it is way too clichéd for them, and it isn’t for those looking for an action entertainer because it is neither action packed nor entertaining. The big budget Tom Cruise tent pole pic tries to be an epic, but ends up becoming an epic failure.
Oblivion is directed by Joseph Kosinski and is based on his own graphic novel. And just like his previous film Tron Legacy it exudes incredible, sweeping visuals with absolutely atrocious plotting and characters. Kosinski has made a number of great commercials, like the Gears of War ad, and it is a mystery how a filmmaker with such a stellar background could continually churn out good looking bad films. The writing here is just terrible, and shockingly the writing credits include William Monahan (The Departed) and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3). The Earth has been shredded due to a war between humans and aliens. Tom Cruise and Andrea Risenborough are a pseudo husband-wife team whose previous memories have been wiped out by a mysterious corporation. They're employed as scavengers to monitor and bring back resources from the post-apocalyptic wasteland before joining the rest of the human race. Things take a turn when Cruise finds the woman from his dreams crash landing in an escape shuttle, and discovers that the world he lives in may not be the way it seems.
The plot might work as a harmless graphic novel but certainly not as a film. There is literally nothing in Oblivion that hasn’t been done and re-done before in other, better movies. Kosinski bores us by repackaging tropes from The Matrix, Planet of the Apes, Total Recall, I am Legend, Artificial Intelligence and Cruise even throws in a bit of Top Gun in there. Even those with significant patience levels will be left annoyed because the hour-long buildup only leads to a frustrating, lumbering love triangle melodrama instead of decent escapist action entertainment. By the third act Kosinski is completely clueless about what the movie is supposed to be, one moment he’s busy making a sci fi summer actioner (and failing) and the next he’s indulging in indulgent, somber Solaris and To the Wonder cocktail drama (and failing). Even Morgan Freeman, who makes an entry as an older version of Morpheus is wasted in an unintentionally funny role. The clean white and blue visuals, though derived from various video games are really pleasing to the eye, but the only real draw of Oblivion is that it puts the incredibly talented Shadow Dancer star Andrea Risenborough in the spotlight, giving us hope that she finds better films in the future.
(First published in MiD Day)