The Matrix. Independence Day. Star Wars. Wall-E. If you understand and enjoy those #Movies (and at least one more we won’t mention to avoid spoiling anything) you’re going to locate Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion incredibly familiar. The filmmaker’s second picture right references and was indirectly influenced by plenty of classic films, giving his “first” story a not-so-initial feel.
Yet even with those sways bursting from its seams, Oblivion is a joy. It is a stunning, exciting and pleasing movie full of wonderful visuals, eye popping action and confident storytelling.
Within the first five minutes, Oblivion presents a large number of ways it might go off the rails. Voiceover explains the Earth of a future in which aliens have invaded, leading to atomic strikes that won the war for humankind, but nearly destroyed the planet. Most of humanity is on Jupiter’s moon Titan, or on an orbital station preparing for the journey.
Jack (#TomCruise) is portion of a two-man team (along with Andrea Riseborough) maintaining high-powered, weaponized drones (that look like EVE meets GLaDOS) to protect facilities that convert sea water to energy. Oh, and every night, Jack dreams of a previous life along with a wonderful girl. Sound complicated? It’s, and there’s even a lot more to it, all described in the movie’s opening minutes. Definitely that’s too much to cover in one picture, right? Wrong.
After that opening, Kosinski and credited screenwriters Karl Gajdusek and Michael DeBruyn take a huge step back. The director merely needs to ensure the audience has a good foundation for the slow burn story ahead. Remnants of international destruction are juxtaposed against stunning views. We see quite slick weapons, boats and living quarters. Nostalgia and a love of the arts are expressed, and we get a creeping feeling that something is wrong. It’s a pleasure world to research, but after beginning at a 10, the picture dials the pace back to about a 4. It’s a bit slow, but constantly enthralling.
The cargo includes Julia (Olga Kurylenko), the woman Jack dreams about every night. This puzzle of the crash and Julia’s purpose will set Jack down a path to the facts about his occupation, his world and worlds beyond. This is where we get some enjoyment reveals, and kick-butt action (only wait for the air sequence). When the movie starts to end you won’t need it to, as the crazy questions set up at the start are answered minute by minute.
Oblivion may be incredibly recognizable and very derivative, but it is crafted with confidence and style to present a story that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.