There is a lot to celebrate about the new sci-fi film Oblivion.
For one, it is neither a remake, a sequel, nor based on a comic book.
Two, it stars a remarkably well-preserved 50-year-old Tom Cruise, who—as an Internet meme recently confirmed—is the same age Wilford Brimley was when he appeared in Cocoon. (Feel free to laugh or cry over this tidbit.)
And three, it has some rather slick visuals.
I enjoyed the film, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it original. In fact, Oblivion plays a bit like a “Greatest Hits” compilation of many films that we’ve seen before: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stars Wars, WALL-E (yes the Pixar film), Total Recall, and, even a bit of Top Gun. (Almost all of Tom Cruise’s films could be dubbed Maverick Goes to X. This one would be Maverick Goes to Space.)
Here’s the plot: The year is 2077. Earth has been rendered uninhabitable by a war with aliens. Now, survivors of the war are living on a moon off Saturn. Cruise plays Jack, who lives in a space station with his partner/lover Victoria (excellent Andrea Riseborough), to scavenger for Earth’s last remaining resources and tend to the drones that protect the planet. Once his assignment is complete, he and Victoria will be able to join the others on Saturn.
But Jack, whose memory of before the war has been wiped (to protect himself and the earth, he’s been told), still has an affinity for his native planet. He also keeps dreaming about a beautiful woman (Olga Kurylenko) on the Empire State Building.
One day, while hunting for downed drones, he stumbles across a several grounded astronauts, kept alive in bio-pods of some sort. Yes, one of them is Julia, the woman from his dreams.
I’m making this sound a bit more romantic/dewy than it actually is.
For the most part, Oblivion is squarely in the action/sci-fi genre, with lots of scenes of Jack bravely zooming through space in a futuristic plane (and at one point, a motorcycle) and shooting at what he believes to be are aliens and rogue drones.
There’s a twist, of course, that I won’t reveal, except to say: A man who has had his memory wiped tends to be an unreliable narrator.
Oblivion is a solid choice for fans of sci-fi and Tom Cruise—but probably not Wilford Brimley.