“Oblivion”: The new “Top Gun”?

Joseph Kosinski’s newest blockbuster Oblivion hit theatres on April 19. Box office records from opening weekend totaled $37,054,485, according to IMBD. The film’s narrative has a slow burn effect for intrigue. Requiring five minutes at the beginning of the film for a voice-over exposition of the setting, it may be surprising that most of the action occurs in the last hour of the film. This isn’t your fast paced, nerve-wracking sci-fi flick, it’s more of a divulgence into Cruise meandering in quiet contemplation of the earth’s condition.

Oblivion takes place in the not-so-distant future of 2077. Cruise plays security repairman Jack Harper, who is left on earth as part of a ‘clean up’ crew whose purpose is to make earth inhabitable again. Sixty years prior to the plot, an alien population called the Scavs invaded and started a war. The citizens of the earth are victorious but the planet has been ravished and most of its people obliterated. Jack Harper and his partner Victoria must oversee maintenance of drones to exterminate remaining dangers.

For inexplicable reasons, I’m often deterred by films lead by Tom Cruise. Perhaps this is because I can only ever see him as Tom Cruise; I don’t think he truly embraces his character. To his credit, however, playing an action hero at fifty years old is very impressive. Cruise can bring maturity and agility to the screen.

Production design was superb; truly making the desolate, post apocalyptic scenery tangible. Design choices for setting, costumes and practical effects made the film visually striking and curbed the audience interest during the areas where the plot moved too slowly.

However, I did have problems with lack of character development for non-leading characters. I wished that the film would elaborate on Morgan Freeman character’s Beech and like so with Andrea Risebrough’s character Victoria. Even the mysterious, alluring, played by Olga Kurylenka felt underveloped. This was a problem because the role of Julia brings out crucial epiphanies from Jack Harper.

Although some character development was missing, Oblivion has some plot twists that make sitting through the entire film worth it. Director Joseph Kosinski has made a much better film than his recent installment of Tron: Legacy. I expect to see great films from him once he can integrate sufficient story building with his already superb visual effects and scenery. Tom Cruise also showed that he has at least two decades left in him to play the action hero.