Life on post-apocalyptic Earth is a mixed bag for Jack Harper (Tom Cruise). By day, he’s a fighter pilot/mechanic designated with protecting a fleet of drones constantly attacked by “Scavs”—aliens left on Earth after their war ruined the planet. By night, though, Jack lives like James Bond in a sky-bubble in the stratosphere—a kind of floating apartment with uber-modern glass architecture—along with his picture-perfect partner, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), who provides candlelit dinners that always end in a come hither look. (And yes, this glass house reveals several instances of nudity and sex, though they’re not graphic, and the film is rated PG-13.) As Victoria tells their crew leader each night, they make “an effective team.”
The trouble is, Jack has memories. Fleeting memories of life before the aliens, as well as dreams of a dark-haired woman (Olga Kurylenko). When that woman appears at a crash site he’s investigating, Jack risks his life to save her, and together they begin to piece together who he is—and what it will take to save Earth from an enemy he knows all too well. (Not to worry, the leader of the resistance played by Morgan Freeman will explain it to you when the time comes.)
Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron Legacy) is here joined with the producers of Planet of the Apes to create a movie breathtaking in its scope. Filmed partially on the surface of a volcano in Iceland and buoyed by a haunting soundtrack, it occasionally approaches the sublime. Unfortunately, the storyline struggles to maintain its momentum, and several prominent instances of profanity mar the movie for families.
Hence, it’s doubtful Oblivion will get as much interest as The Matrix in Christian circles. But considering Jack’s search for authenticity, along with poetry about the “temples of his gods” and one character’s outright claim to be God, the movie still offers plenty of fodder for discussion. Add to that eye-candy connecting it to sci-fi classics like Star Wars, War of the Worlds, Independence Day, and WALL-E, and the creators of Oblivion prove that they, too, make a mostly “effective team.”