I’m a big fan of clever, great looking science fiction but wasn’t really excited by the prospect of the latest Tom Cruise vehicle, Oblivion. The trailer seemed to suggest the great looks but gave little indication of the ideas to back up the visuals. I was wrong. Oblivion is a film which I enjoyed much more than I anticipated and as an overall package is a pretty decent film. It’s 2077 and the Earth has been partially destroyed by a war between humans and an alien force known as Scavengers. Although we won the war, we couldn’t save the planet as the use of atomic weapons left it mostly uninhabitable. With most of humanity relocated to Titan and the rest aboard an orbiting space station awaiting their departure, the last two people on Earth live above the clouds and form a skeleton crew in charge of maintaining drones which protect vital sea based energy converters from the few remaining Scavs.
Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is drone mechanic 49 who spends his days servicing downed drones while dodging the occasional Scav attack. His partner is Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) who monitors Jack from the clouds and she reports back to Control (Melissa Leo) aboard the orbiting space station. Jack finds himself suffering unusual flashbacks to a time before his birth and when a craft crashes into his sector he discovers that its only survivor is the woman from his flashback dreams. As Jack uncovers new and disturbing evidence after an encounter with the Scavs, it appears that all is not what it seems on Earth. Oblivion isn’t a fantastic film but when science fiction blockbusters these days are either comic book based or just loud, shouty, exploding Michael Bay style affairs, Oblivion harks back to the 1970s period of sci-fi about ideas which are set in a fleshed out and realistic world. Oblivion not only looks brilliant but has an engaging plot which is full of surprises.