Tom Cruise in Oblivion (2013) Review

Oblivion (2013), directed by Joseph Kosinski, is a mesmerizing story of loss, faith, and hope in both humanity, ourselves, and our hopes. Kosinski's intrepid epic traces Technician 49 (Tom Cruise) as he proceeds with his daily duties repairing drones assigned to secure these enormous water-draining devices. Earth is in a perilous situation and Tech 49 is assigned to ensure the functionality of the only source of life for their new world. With the Earth toppled and much of everything destroyed, Tech 49 is merely living for the day and surviving every encounter with the Scavengers (Scavs).

Straight from the beginning we are drawn to Tech 49, the handsome, charming, and confused individual on an unknown mission to uncover the depths of his consciousness. In doing so, he discovers a perilous situation and reaches the final compromise and return to innocence, atop the skies he greets his master with a quote from Greek mythology. In the end, the film leaves many questions unanswered and, perhaps, that's for a good reason, or that the questions are too big for the film to answer.

Kosinski wrote this "graphic novel" Oblivion (12 page story)  in 2005, 5 years before his huge release of Tron: The Legacy. Intent to reinforce Tron, his own legacy grounded on a powerful science-fiction ideal, Kosinski swiftly developed Oblivion's production. According the production notes, Kosinski stated, " I have always liked the ’70s sci-fi art by Chris Foss, Peter Elson and Chris Moore  and knew that with VFX technology as advanced as it is today, I could combine CGI work and real landscapes seamlessly and create something unique." We've already seen Kosinski's addiction to CGI and visual effects in Tron. 

According to many sources, there really never was a graphic novel, just some sketches and notes made beautiful by Radical Publishing. Before the production of Oblivion, there were actually sales of the Oblivion text! Check this:

There was a line of 1,000 people at Comic-Con waiting for Joe to autograph a copy of the Oblivion ashcan. Along with the story, we created a memorable logo and illustrations that got a response from the get-go. (

Kosinski has insisted that this was merely an ashcan, nothing really serious, but the ideas behind it he encouraged heavily with Radical Publishing and Radical Studios.

The production seems quite suspicious. Quickly after Tom Cruise was persuaded and Cruise allotted his production company's resources to fulfill the incomprehensible budget for Oblivion, suddenly similar concepts generic in all Tom Cruise films were immediately injected: the chase sequences from Top Gun, the explosions from Mission Impossible, and the unnecessary focus upon his physique and good looks, the film quickly loses its original appeal.

In an attempt to balance the story, Tech 49 (Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise) meets Beech (Morgan Freeman). Beech (a Scav) believes that Jack can be convinced because he sees humanity in him and, in doing so, jeopardizes the existence of the entire Scav community.

When Cruise discovers the ulterior motive of his superior, "Sally", he gives a prophetic sacrifice in order to save humankind one last time, a sacrifice we've so adored in Bruce Willis's Armageddon. There's not enough story about the aliens themselves, what they are, why they came, and why they need so much of the Earth's resources. We don't even know what Sally is. The story is unfortunately not believable, persuasive and misses a great deal of opportunities to clarify and develop Beech's character. I wish I knew more about the Scavs, but no 12 page "graphic novel" can ever really elaborate on that.

As you can tell based on the following motion picture stills (courtesy of Universal Pictures), Kosinski uses visually appealing, highly dynamic cinematography with extreme attention to the technological and visual effects of the film. Kosinski knows that our generation has a liking, perhaps even a preference for entertaining and powerfully built CGI screens. Kosinski ensures us that the chase sequence is everything we could expect and the ultra swift attacks from the drones provide enough attention and fascination to distract us away from the film itself. We're enthralled by the visually appealing, beautifully photographed scenes.

Here are images of the Oblivion Graphic Novel:

With hopes to read the Oblivion graphic novel, I guess we may never know:

As for whether we’ll ever see the printed version of the story? “I don’t have any plans to do it right now. To me it’s feels like it’s in the rear-view mirror, you know? It’s like part of the development process. The film is the end result. But never say never. Maybe at some point it will be fun to go back and show the steps and the journey - (Radical Studio)

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