Rashid Irani's review: Oblivion
Direction: Joseph Kosinski
Actors: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko
This cerebral sci-fi odyssey is stylish, exciting and biggest surprise of all, emotionally stirring. Far superior to anything we’ve experienced in the genre in recent years, Oblivion even compares quite favourably with such classics as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.
The narrative, culled from director Joseph Kosinski’s own graphic novel, is admittedly heavy going at times. To his credit, Kosinski, whose only previous feature was Tron: Legacy (2010), doesn’t blunt the edges of the brain-teasing story material.
Drawing us into an atmosphere of pervasive unease from the get-go, the dystopian fable resonates with a real poignancy.
Circa 2077, planet earth has been reduced to rubble. In the aftermath of a devastation which occurred some 60 years before, survivors spend their days in glass towers suspended high above the scorched landscape.
The protagonist is a drone maintenance man (Cruise, anchoring the action with utter conviction). Lonely despite the companionship of his live-in co-worker (Andrea Riseborough), the techie regularly dive-bombs in his flying doodad to the surface of a post-apocalyptic New York City.
Haunted by memories of his past, our taciturn hero’s world turns topsy-turvy after he rescues a mysterious woman (former Bond girl Kurylenko) whose space shuttle has crash-landed.
Meanwhile, a group of scavengers led by a veteran freedom fighter (Morgan Freeman) attempt to ward off attacks from rogue drones.
The resolution, which is set against an idyllic lakeside backdrop is as ingenious as it is haunting. As exploration of the power of true love, the film uses its arsenal of relatively low-tech effects for maximum impact.
Cinematographer Claudio Miranda, who also shot Life of Pi, makes exemplary use of extreme close-ups, besides constant fade-outs to black.
Kosinski draws on his background in design to realize a visionary spectacle. See this film pronto, before it’s consigned to Oblivion.