Written & Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman
125 Minutes, 2013
Oblivion is part of what appears to be a new wave of original science fiction. Over the last few years we have seen some great science fiction but up until this year, good science fiction has been sparing. Examples from the last few years include Children of Men, Sunshine, District 9, Inception and Could Atlas. With Oblivion it finally feels like studios are losing the fear of original films. You could argue that Tom Cruise is a studio insurance measure. However, it is Tom Cruise that is taking the risk. He could easily ride the coattails of such cash cows as Mission Impossible, but with Oblivion like Minority Report (2002) he chooses to focus his attention on a heady science fiction that is above and beyond the generalised science fiction that Hollywood usually delivers in such classics as Transformers 1 – 3 and John Carter. For this alone Oblivion gets my recommendation.
Is Oblivion perfect? Not quite. It is very, very good but just misses the mark of being great. The ideas are fantastic, the music is phenomenal and overall the film looks beautiful, plus Olga Kurylenko has a beauty and a sensuality that is so captivating she could make Battle: Los Angeles watchable. So what keeps the film from greatness?
Surprisingly, Morgan Freeman is the weak link in a potentially great work of science fiction. Freeman is a great actor, this cannot be denied. He is a better actor than Tom Cruise. This is also above contention. When Morgan Freeman is interested in the material he is electrifying. This man has the power to break your heart just by lowering his voice. In this film Freeman phoned in his role. It was almost as if he was reading from cue cards. This was a very important character to the film and seeing Tom Cruise bringing his A-Game and Freeman just showing up for work was distracting to the point where I lost interest in the film during Morgan Freeman’s scenes. Forest Whitaker would have taken this role to a whole other level. People can criticize Tom Cruise for his personal life and religious choices til they are blue in the face, one thing that Tom Cruise should never be criticized for are his movie and career choices. Tom Cruise may not be the greatest actor in history but he never fails to give 100% to whatever film he is in. Bruce Willis on the other hand could make any film he wants, yet over the last few years appears mostly uninspired and rarely brings his A-Game. Tom Cruise rarely falters in this department. Therefore, in the end we have a solid science fiction that is close to great but the aim is slightly off. I would recommend seeing this if you love challenging and original science fiction.