He rides a sweet motorcycle, flies a badass futuristic stealth bomber, wears a cool NASCAR-like uniform, does a scene in zero gravity, and kisses two beautiful women. Needless to say, Tom Cruise had several reasons to sign up for “Oblivion,” and as an added bonus, writer/director Joseph Kosinski assembled a slick, compelling story around which to frame the riding and the flying and the floating and the kissing. Sci-fi fans will likely cry foul with regard to how much “Oblivion” borrows from a smaller film released a few years back (to say its name would give away too much), and rightfully so. Indeed, “Oblivion” is in many ways a souped-up, big-budget remake of the smaller film. The original is better, as is often the case, but “Oblivion” is quite good as well. It’s beautifully shot, it carries a palpable sense of unease, and it keeps its cards close to the vest. The poker face approach gets frustrating at times, but in the end it was nice to see a science fiction film that doesn’t patronize its audience.
In the years following a war that devastated Earth and killed the population, technician Jack Harper (Cruise) and his work/life partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) literally live in a penthouse in the clouds. Jack and Victoria take instructions from Sally (Melissa Leo) at Mission Control to keep a group of spherical drones functioning so the good guys can defend themselves against a group of alien scavengers who seek to undermine their efforts even though the war is long over. Jack has strange memories, though, of a woman he’s never met and a life he’s never lived. When the scavengers set up a beacon that attracts a ship, Jack investigates the landing site and is stunned to discover that the woman in his dreams is one of the passengers. Soon after, Jack receives a visit from the scavengers, and is forced to rethink everything he has ever known.