In Oblivion, directed by Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy), Tom Cruise plays an ex-Marine commander called Jack Harper in the year 2077. We know what you might be thinking: doesn’t that sound like Jack Reacher, the character he played in the adaptation of Lee Child’s series of novels? Perhaps he likes the name.
Jack’s been hitting the road as part of an operation to extract resources from the Earth after many years of war with an alien enemy. No matter, he’s now only weeks away from joining his fellow humans who have been evacuated to a lunar colony. Until, that is, Jack rescues a beguiling stranger (Olga Kurylenko) from a downed spacecraft who will somehow make him question everything. What’s next for Jack? Only deciding the fate of humanity, which he previously thought was about to be lost forever.
The critics who got lost in Oblivion didn’t, for the most part, emerge singing the movie’s praises. Noting its many influences, the Financial Times reports that it “starts as a kind of Silent Running or Omega Man (bliss) but collapses into a noisy Matrix-y Independence Day.” The Daily Telegraph arguably takes an even harsher approach: “The trouble with Oblivion is that it never gets past second gear, and most of the ideas feel cloned.” But the Irish Times can accentuate the positives, pointing out that, “As futurology it stinks. But as anaesthetised fantasy it works very nicely.” What’s more, “It even manages to justify the perennial blandness of the apparently unaging Tom Cruise. That requires some class of genius.”