Oblivion is set in a near future where Earth has been invaded by an alien race known as the Scavengers (or Scavs), who have unleashed devastation by destroying Earth’s moon. Those humans who survive the ensuing earthquakes and tidal waves, caused by the Moon’s destruction, fight back by moving into space stations and using nuclear weapons on the alien invaders. In the process Earth is made uninhabitable, due to the fallout radiation, and humanity builds a new colony for itself on Titan.
Jack Harper (played by Tom Cruise) and his lover Victoria (played by Andrea Riseborough) are two of the last humans left on Earth. They live in a station up above the clouds, assisting with a project to extract and purify what remains of Earth’s water so it can be used by the colony on Titan. Jack is a tech who fixes military drones that patrol Earth, killing off any remaining Scavs that may be left. He has been having dreams of a time before the war, and keeps seeing a woman’s face in his dreams. Both Jack and Victoria’s memories, prior the past five years of their lives, have been wiped so they cannot reveal any intel if they are ever captured by the Scavs. However, things begin to take a turn when Jack is on a patrol of the planet and comes across a downed spaceship. Inside the wreckage is a capsule, where he discovers the woman from his dreams alive in a state of suspended animation.
Oblivion is an intelligently crafted sci-fi action thriller that does not talk down to its audience. It kept me engaged through most of its two hour running time with continual intrigue and plot twists. Seeing it in Imax definitely contributed to an overall absorbing sensory experience. It was also refreshing to see an original work of science fiction up on the big screen, and not just another sequel, remake, or attempt to cash in on a popular trend.
While the plot twists kept me engaged, there was nothing here that I haven’t already seen done in other science fiction movies and TV shows. I was also disappointed with the very last scene of the film, and would have liked to see it end on a slightly different note.
While I like that this film doesn’t talk down to it’s audience, I do think I missed some plot points and did find myself confused at times. Perhaps this would improve with repeat viewing, but I suspect the filmmakers could have added just a little more explanation as to what was being revealed in certain scenes. I also thought the film was a bit much of a Tom Cruise ego fest for my tastes. Not as obnoxiously so as some big budget Hollywood action films, but just enough to make me roll my eyes at times.
Oblivion is a gorgeously shot, engaging, and smart piece of sci-fi filmmaking. It doesn’t break any new ground, but it is an original story that’s well done and it should easily hold your interest through most of its two hour running time.