A case of identity theft

A case of identity theft

Patience required as plot unravels

By Tim Pompey 04/25/2013


Oblivion
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action
violence, brief strong language, some sensuality/nudity
2 hr. 6 min.


Kudos to those who have the patience to sit through this film and wait for the ending. They are eventually rewarded, but, boy, does it take its time and drag you through the mud and sand before it gives away its secret. In between start and finish, you may scratch your head a few times and wonder what the dickens is going on.


As with Inception, this is one of those films where there are layers upon layers of story swirling in the atmosphere, so get ready to put on your thinking cap and don’t try too hard to guess the ending. Rest assured it will come to you, eventually.


Along the way, this story also manages to be thoughtful and visually interesting and to raise questions about the consequences of cloning. If indeed DNA can be duplicated, to whom does the original humanity and memory really belong? What makes each person physically and emotionally unique? These are ethical and scientific questions that fit very nicely in a sci-fi context.


It’s nearing the end of the 21st century and Earth has been ravaged for decades by an alien invasion. Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), the last residents on earth, live in a tower high in the atmosphere and watch over a series of large reactors that provide water and power to their space station orbiting above the Earth.


Jack’s specific job is to maintain and repair a series of watchdog fighter drones that protect these reactors from the ongoing sabotage of a remnant of aliens known as Scavs.

It’s a happy time for the young couple. They’re in love and soon they will leave Earth for Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, to be with the rest of humanity.


One day, Jack sees an old NASA ship fall to Earth and crash. The ship is filled with humans who have been drifting, asleep in space, for 60 years. After he rescues Julia (Olga Kurylenko), the only surviving crew member, he recognizes her from a series of dreams that he has been having.


Seeing Julia makes Jack wonder how his life and hers interconnect. What he discovers is that the story he has believed about himself and the destruction of his planet is not what he thinks.


Even more perplexing, what he learns calls into question his own identity. It’s a puzzle he’s compelled to solve, but as he gets closer to the truth, his life and memory become more complex and bewildering.


Having directed Tron: Legacy, Joseph Kosinski knows his way around this type of techno film. While Oblivion is much more earthbound, it still has the same metal and plastic quality to it that suggests a world dominated by the merger of machines and humans.


The action in Oblivion is pretty standard for a sci-fi film, and sometimes the dialogue can be wooden, but in this pic, dialogue is only secondary to the movie’s larger themes.


I had the sense that the actors served much the same purpose as their characters in the movie — to do the bidding of their master and to feed a plot line that unravels like several spools of yarn in the same basket. It’s the music of M83, the photography of Claudio Miranda, the body language of Cruise and the eyes of Morgan Freeman that tell the real story.


Remember The Matrix? Yes, this is one of those films that you have to keep thinking about after you leave the theater. The question for you will be:  Is it worth this much thought?


Frankly, I don’t know. It’s visually stimulating in one sense and laborious in another. I think it all boils down to how hard you want to work and how much brain matter you are willing to sacrifice to enjoy it. Morpheus, help us!

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