Now Playing Review

Cruise still an effective lead in Oblivion

lars logoYEP YEP – It’s The Matrix meets Planet of the Apes meets War of the Worlds; with a huge debt owed to 2001: A Space OdysseyStar Wars; and even, surprisingly, the small Sam Rockwell film, Moon. 

So, if you liked all of those films you will love the new Tom Cruise sci-fi vehicle Oblivion

We learn through opening narration that the year is 2077; and you guessed it…there’s been a war. This time the conflict cost us the moon – literally – leaving planet earth a smoldering desolate wasteland, picked over by “scavengers” who hide in the shadows and make things difficult for the new order.

Cruise plays Jack Harper, a space station technician whose job it is to monitor and repair the menacing combat drones that patrol the planet and keep things in line.

He and his housemate/partner/spouse Vika (Andrea Riseborough) answer to Sally (Melissa Leo) back on the Oblivionmother ship, Teta. She gives the orders, they take ’em. They are “an effective team.”

But, Jack has a curious penchant for nostalgic things from the past, like football, literature, and art. This is peculiar and frustrating to Vika because part of the new order was a “mandatory memory swipe;” probably the first hint in writer-director Joseph Kosinski’s thought-provoking script that things are not as clear-cut as we are being told.

This is one of those peel back the onion films that demands you stay engaged.

Cruise, unlike any other major star of his generation, manages to make larger than life, leap of faith film premises somehow believable. If the script is plausible at all, Tom Cruise will enlist you in his intensity and convince you his motivations are not just the right ones, but the only ones.

And he’s been doing it for nearly 30 years!

Of all Cruise’s films, and I’ve seen ’em all, Oblivion is easily one of his most thematically ambitious.

Usually with action films (and most sci-fi), the story largely depends on the menace factor of the villain.

In Oblivion the villain is nothing more complex than the faceless oppression of individual liberty.

It’s more than just man vs. machine, however.

Oblivion honors the value of curiosity and takes time to acknowledge the spiritual significance of the arts and the dreams that connect us. Ideas that are worth sacrificing everything for.

“If we have souls, they are made of the love we share.”

3 thoughts on “Cruise still an effective lead in Oblivion

  1. In another actor’s hands it would have sunk for me too, but not with Cruise at the helm. I’ve been a fan of his seemingly my entire adult life, and he never ceases to amaze me. The guy is so good, so underrated. I bought every moment of his arc. And Morgan Freeman didn’t annoy me for the first time in a while. Can’t wait to see it again.

  2. The “mandated memory swipe” is Hollywood’s phrase for “The Theory of Unlearning”, a James K Feibleman contribution to the new order. We are to unlearn our borders, any dogma, loyalty, or axioms taught to us by our parents, simply unlearn anything that makes us different that our global neighbor.

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