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Oblivion (DQ)


Stars: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo

Director: Joseph Kosinski

A great-looking if terminally baffling sci-fi epic with sleekly stunning special effects, set on an Earth in 2077 that's been pretty much obliterated by nuclear war. The Scavs (Scavengers), leaving their planet, have destroyed much of the Moon, leaving Earth, even as a Pyrrhic victory against the invaders is achieved, in the clutches of a series of natural disasters.

Above the planet. in an impressive futuristic condo, pilot Jack Harper (Cruise) checks in on the various drones patrolling the skies and, with his sub-controller Vika (Riseborough), looks forward to going home to Saturn's rings where the remains of Earth's population now live. But all, of course, is not what it appears to Jack and Vika, although a Mensa gold star will be awarded to anyone making sense of more than half of what follows.

After rescuing crashed drones, Jack comes across the burning wreckage of an Earthship, its former occupants all travelling in glass 'coffins', most of which are destroyed by drones before Jack saves the last, containing Julia (Kurylova) who stirs vague recollections in his mind, even though, like all others (or so he imagines) he has been subjected to 'mandatory memory wipes'.

Returning with Julia to recover her flight recorder, Jack is captured by what he believes to be Scavs but who, to his amazement, turn out to be Earthlings, led by Freeman (in an unworthy role).

Things ought to get clearer from this point, but instead become more and more obscure. Occasional bursts of fiercely-edited action at least grasp the attention in the film's latter half, although you may be stifling yawns in between. An immobile Cruise can find little leeway here to extend his hero beyond the conventional, and it's Riseborough who manages to extract the most from a blank character and make her intriguing. Getting any sense out of this one, though, truly is a mission impossible. IMAX in some cinemas.

David Quinlan

US 2013. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Apr 2013