movie film review | chris tookey


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  Oblivion Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
4.33 /10
Tom Cruise , Olga Kurylenko , Andrea Riseborough
Full Cast >

Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Joseph Kosinski, William Monaghan, Karl Gajdusek Michael Arndt based on a graphic novel by Kosinski

Released: 2013
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 126

Spectacularly dull.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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There’s a poetic justice that Tom Cruise’s career as a movie star should have started 30 years ago with Risky Business and now ends in Oblivion.

Oblivion is the first blockbuster turkey of the summer. A stratospheric budget has been lavished on an unpublished graphic novel.

It becomes embarrassingly obvious over 126 laborious minutes why the book was not published. The film has not a vestige of wit, originality or human interest.

It is astonishing the writer-director Joseph Kosinski was given such generous resources after his last abomination, the flashy but impenetrable Tron: Legacy. Presumably, it got the green light when he persuaded Cruise to clamber aboard.

The film allows the 50 year-old actor a chance to indulge his various hobbies: driving fast, climbing, posing while beautifully lit, running away from exploding fireballs... There’s even an aerial chase and shoot-up to remind us of Top Gun, 27 years ago.

Cruise goes through the motions photogenically, but resembles a patiently trained horse performing dressage for the thousandth time. Everything seems formal, laid down by tradition. There is not an iota of personality.

His performance here is even more robotic than in his last turkey, Jack Reacher, where he bravely attempted to play a tough guy twelve inches taller than himself.

Set in 2077, the film stars Cruise as Jack Harper (will he now only agree to play characters called Jack?). Harper is the last square-jawed he-man on earth, which has been devastated by a nuclear war sixty years previously. Cruise informs us in voice-over that the people to blame were aliens, known as scavengers or “scavs”. He also tells us his memory has been wiped – a pretty heavy-handed warning that he is an unreliable narrator.

His job is to repair the unmanned drones that patrol what’s left of New York City, protecting vast hydroelectric generators that convert Earth’s water supply into fuel for the world’s remaining population, who have moved to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

His one ally is an English woman called Victoria. Andrea Riseborough does her best to humanise her, but her only functions are to spout incomprehensible technobabble, act as support crew to Cruise and give him 12A-rated sex in their transparent swimming pool, which seems improbably luxurious for a repair-man, however hunky.

Occasionally, their controller appears on a video screen, in the form of a fake-friendly Melissa Leo, constantly inquiring “Are you an effective team?”

The correct response is “We are an effective team”. But I half-expected the perky and talented Ms Riseborough to complain “I’m doing my best, gaffer, but I’m having to do the acting for both of us”.

The two other major occupants of screen time are Olga Kurylenko, formerly a Bond girl in the dreary Quantum of Solace. She crash-lands on Earth, is literally the woman of Jack’s dreams, and acts like a former catwalk model and face of Lejaby lingerie, Clarins and Helena Rubinstein cosmetic products. She is out of her depth as an actress and appears to have learned her lines phonetically.

Also around to draw his paycheck is Morgan Freeman, who turns up belatedly and delivers vast gobs of indigestible exposition that don’t tell us much more than we have already guessed. For most of the time, he wears dark glasses. I’m not sure if he’s attempting to appear incognito. I wouldn’t be surprised if he attempted to do the whole thing with his eyes shut.

As you would expect from a film of this magnitude, the scenery is spectacular. The trouble is that you’d find a good deal more excitement simply by staring into the Grand Canyon.

The whole folie de grandeur is ponderous, humourless and derivative. Even the score is a rip-off of Hans Zimmer’s music for Inception.

If you wish to see films based on similar premises, I would recommend Wall-E, the original Planet of the Apes, and particularly Moon. All are far superior to this one.

After more than two hours, I was surprised to discover that my cheeks were wet. I was, quite literally, crying with boredom.

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