With Tom Cruise clearly ridding this Sci-fi train, having just wrapped up filming of next year’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” I wanted to look back at his last film “Oblivion.” It’s one that didn’t get a lot of play, but should have given how tough it is to earn your stripes in this genre. There is only one George Lucas, so knowing that, you must find that ‘happy medium’ and at least from where I sat, writer/director Joseph Kosinski did exactly that with “Oblivion.”
Set in the year of 2077, some 60 years after Earth was blindsided by aliens who left it and its moon to die, the story here follows Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) as he collects any available resources left from the planet he once called home. His partner/lover is Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who runs the communications side of the operation, often giving details of their work to their superiors on a space station called the Tet. Jack’s primary responsibility, however, is to find and work on any drones that become inoperable. These drones would typically patrol Earth and help be the eyes for those commanders’ up on the Tet. And in two weeks Jack and Victoria would complete their mission and join the rest of the remaining humanity up on Tet. But, Jack dreamed of another place, one that he found during his surveillance and one he would often escape to, given it reminded him so much of a past he once knew and loved. One that would come full circle when a spaceship crashed in his sector one day carrying several capsules of people, one of which being a woman he often would see in his flashbacks.
For most sci-fi films, this is irrelevant given the story is usually so over the top that it distracts you from the cast. But, Tom Cruise is a part of this, which still means something in most Hollywood circles. And given it’s been a few years since we saw him in a so-called sci-fi flick, “War of the Worlds” was the last, I went in with low expectations. That says something given I make no apologies that he is my favorite actor, but I wasn’t “all-in” for this role when I first heard about it. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect it or maybe it’s because he just doesn’t seem to fit in this genre all that well. I don’t know, I guess at some point when you get to be as big as Cruise, all films are magnified whether they should be or not. So, for Cruise to still ‘bring it’ the way he does and did in his film is impressive to me. Especially when so many fellow actors’ from his generation are no longer relevant. With that said, he wasn’t alone here, as both Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko made sure to support him in the best way possible. Sure, that’s obvious to some, but Cruise is still Cruise and with that comes a level of confidence anyone supporting him has to have.
For most people reading this, the name Joseph Kosinski means nothing. It looks like a name you should know, but unless you’re one of the five people that actually looked to see who directed “Tron: Legacy,” this is the first time seeing his name. And that’s ok, given this is only his second film after making a name for himself with computer graphics and computer generated imagery work for TV and film. But, I hope after watching “Oblivion” and going back to watch “Tron: Legacy” for the first or second time, you will remember Joseph Kosinski. Because I have a feeling this is only the beginning for the aspiring 38-year-old writer/director. That’s right; he also writes and here provided the script, derived from his own graphic novel by the same name. And who knows, maybe that’s why it felt so fluent from start to finish, but either way I can’t imagine this film working without Kosinki’s personal touch from the pages of the script through the lens of his camera. Because not since “Tron: Legacy” have I seen such spectacular imagery, blowing you away with some unbelievable action sequences. I was shocked really with how technically sound this film was inside and out. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it was close and a lot better that I imagined it would be thanks to Kosinski and his incredible “eye.”
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