Tue 6 Sep 2016
I liked many things in ‘Oblivion‘, actually more than I expected. I am no fan of computer games, certainly not of these that are dominated by machine guns and laser guns, by cars races and space-ships races – and there are plenty of those in the film directed by Joseph Kosinski. I disliked many of the films that bring to screen heroes and action inspired by comics or graphical novels, and ‘Oblivion‘ is based on one written by the director. And I am not too sympathetic to the action heroes roles that Tom Cruise picks almost exclusively lately, the main reason being that by doing this he buries in the past an excellent actor (hopefully just puts him to freeze). Despite all these wrong starting points, I liked a lot (but not all) in this movie.
The story conceived by director, script writer and games creator Joseph Kosinski happens in an uncertain future. The world as we know it ended in 2017. Earth came under attack, Moon was destroyed and the nuclear weapons of Armageddon were used in self defense. Mankind won the war but lost the planet Earth now inhabitable, and will soon be moving to a new home, one of the satellites of Jupiter. It’s only that almost nothing of what we see in the first 15 to 30 minutes of the film is what viewers are actually made to believe. ‘Oblivion‘ starts like a very standard comics-inspired film, and as we got used to its world, something happens that is quite unusual in routine movies of its genre. Characters start to develop, they learn about themselves, they ask questions about their own identity. Eventually the movie will turn into the action thriller that it was advertised to be, but this will happen in a smart manner, and the heroes end by being something very different from our initial guesses.
A few words about acting. Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman are two names that do not need any introduction. Cruise gets more opportunities for an interesting role and deals with them honorably. Freeman has a much drier part and cannot make too much to enrich it. The real surprise is Olga Kurylenko, not only fit to the action role, not only looking good, but also acting appropriately in a key role.
There are two interesting aspects in which ‘Oblivion‘ breaks the rules of the genre and helps being more than just another adaptation of a graphical novel. One aspect is that the viewers discover together with the heroes that the world where the action is located is something very different from what they thought it is. This complete change in their systems of reference and values doubles with a story line that has clear ecological and political references to the present, although the action takes place in a not very immediate future. The dangers of the new technologies like AI and cloning when they fall into the wrong hands are clearly articulated. The second aspect is that the graphics fit well the idea of the two intersecting and interchanging worlds. In the beginning the film has a very computer graphics game look which describes at perfection the apparently ordered world. Later the border between the artificial and idyllic worlds and the complex realities of the future begin to blur, we see the ‘monsters’ and realize that they may not be what they seem to be. There is also a political saying about a world where drones play such a central place from fighting the wars of the humans to protecting and saving their lives. ‘Oblivion‘ has many quantities that make if different from the crowd and is definitely worth a try.