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Thursday 14 December 2017

A smart idea veers off into Oblivion

Tom Cruise starring in Oblivion
Tom Cruise starring in Oblivion

Paul Whitington

Film Review: Oblivion (12A, general release, 125 minutes)

Director: Joseph Kosinski Stars: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman

Expect no favours from the future, folks. I have yet to see a science-fiction film that predicts a rosy or even tolerable long-term prognosis for either mankind or our planet, and as its title suggests, Oblivion paints an especially gloomy picture.

It's 2077, and the Earth has been laid waste and rendered uninhabitable following a war with an alien invasion force.

The aliens were defeated and pretty much wiped out apart from a few stragglers. And Tom Cruise is Jack Harper, a marine commander who patrols the lonely planet in a space module.

He lives above the Earth on a luxurious floating pod and has a glamorous colleague called Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) for company. All mankind will shortly decamp for a new life on Titan, Saturn's most habitable moon, and Jack's job involves guarding giant, water-gathering 'hydra rigs' from alien attacks.

The rigs are sucking the Earth's oceans dry and, when they're done, the planet will be a dry and barren husk. But Jack has mixed feelings about what's happening, and is troubled by a recurring dream involving a mysterious raven-haired woman.

When an antique NASA escape pod crashes to earth, Jack investigates and is shocked to discover among the survivors the beautiful woman from his dreams. She is Julia (Olga Kurylenko), and her arrival makes Jack question everything he's been working towards.

Oblivion is directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on a graphic novel he co-authored. It is visually impressive to begin with, and grandly references classic sci-fi films like Planet of the Apes. A handsome and portentous opening sequence promises meaty and mind-bending action to come. But, after 20 minutes or so, Oblivion settles into a steady, tedious plod. While the screenplay does contain some interesting ideas, none of them are expounded fast enough to keep the viewer interested, and in the end Kosinski's film is a hi-tech bore that falls to bits in the last half hour.

Irish Independent

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