Post apocalyptic science fiction is my favourite movie genre. There are few made that I consider to be worthy of watching twice. Oblivion is one I could watch everyday, for the rest of my life. Its subtlety in gesture and immense cinematography portray a future that I would not want to be part of, but am drawn to with wide open eyes and intrigue.
It is 2077. Earth has been decimated by a war fought against aliens sixty years prior. The destruction of the moon caused massive earthquakes and tsunamis, while the use of nuclear weapons resulted in a human victory. Earth was saved, but left uninhabitable. What was left of humanity was relocated to Saturn’s moon, Titan, via the ‘TET’ – an enormous tetrahedron-shaped space station orbiting Earth.
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise – a superstar that needs no introduction who has appeared in over 40 movies since 1981), Tech 49, is a technician who patrols an area surrounding Tower 49, located on the north-eastern coast of USA, where he resides with his partner and communications officer, Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough – Disconnect, Welcome to the Punch, Shadow Dancer). Together they work under instruction from mission controller, Sally (Melissa Leo – Prisoners, Olympus Has Fallen, The Fighter), to protect the offshore fusion energy generators that supply power to the colonists on Titan. Daily skirmishes involve maintaining the drones that assist the pair, while fending off minor Scav (ie. a small group of rebel aliens surviving in the ruins) attacks.
Vika is excited by the prospect of completing their mission in two weeks time, when they will return to Titan. Jack is less so, and will miss Earth, especially the lake house he has built in secret while on his daily reconnaissance. To add to his dilemma, he is constantly haunted by visions of an unknown woman and a life before the war.
Awakened by an enormous nuclear explosion one morning, Jack hurries to investigate, and detects a Scav beacon transmitting co-ordinates off planet. Shortly after, The Odyssey, a pre-invasion spacecraft, crash-lands. Among the wreckage, Jack discovers several stasis chambers containing living humans, one of which is the unknown woman from his visions, Julia (Olga Kurylenko – Seven Psychopaths, Centurion, Quantum of Solace). The discovery of Julia triggers the turning point of the story. Every moment after reveals another detail to eventually uncover the truth behind the TET.
Produced and directed by Joseph Kosinski, Oblivion is based on his unpublished graphic novel of the same name, and pays reverence to science fiction films of the 1970s. For only his second attempt at directing a movie, (Tron Legacy being his first, a movie I also adore), Kosinski looks to be developing a mega star career behind the camera.
M83’s euphonic tunes beautifully compliment scenes of grandeur showing some of America’s most iconic landmarks in ruin. Like Tron Legacy, Oblivion oozes style and grace while portraying a palpable stark contrast between the good guys and the bad. I couldn’t help but feel the occasional sense of awe during moments of clarity as the story was revealed. And of course, Morgan Freeman tops it off for me as there’s nothing he can’t say that doesn’t sound omniscient and masterful. A brilliant movie. I look forward to seeing what Kosinski comes up with next.
The Movie Lad rates this: Several more watches, each time with an almond magnum!