There’s a joke to be made about the title of the new Tom Cruise science fiction movie, Oblivion, I just can’t think of it.
Oblivion bores you to oblivion.
The movie Oblivion is as clunky as it is difficult to use the word oblivion in a sentence.
Oblivion is a movie that makes me fear what other loud, bland, eye candy with no sense of humor might be coming to the cinema this summer.
An apt description, but there’s not really a joke in it. In fact that thought makes me want to cry.
Don’t get me wrong, Oblivion looks great. I saw it on one of those massive IMAX screens and it might have the most amazing special effects I have ever seen. But there’s only so much futuristic planes flying around I can handle before I want my turn on the controller.
It’s difficult to describe the plot of Oblivion not only because each plot point holds what’s supposed to be an epic surprise, but also because recapping Oblivion makes you sound mentally ill. Tom Cruise lives in a future where Earth has been destroyed by an alien invasion. The moon has blown up and the only human structures that still stand are famous monuments. Tom Cruise’s job is to fix robotic automatic flying weapons called drones when they malfunction. At some point Tommy leaves his British wife for a hot Russian supermodel, Morgan Freeman shows up, and Tom Cruise becomes humanity’s savior.
I tried to find some sneaky metaphor in the movie for Tom Cruise’s denial about his aging. The guy turns 51 this year and he’s still playing the same roles he did 30 years ago. Marlon Brando was 48 when he played Don Corleone in The Godfather. Danny Glover was 43 when he was too old for this shit in Lethal Weapon 2. But Tommy boy still thinks he’s 25 and that Oblivion could be his audition piece to play Maverick again in Top Gun 2.
There’s probably a large ticket buying subset of the population, who doesn’t want to see Tommy grow up, but Cruise’s presence in this movie that takes itself way too seriously made the enterprise even more silly. I was more interested throughout the movie if Tommy had any gray hairs than I cared who these mysterious aliens might be. I wondered if it was intentional that the woman he leaves is a tall, icy career oriented redhead, and the woman he gets with is a tall brunette who fathers a daughter for him.
After a decade of making clunkers (2003’s The Last Samurai was his last solid movie and 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut his last great movie) Tommy’s hit that Michael Jackson stage of his career where his celebrity overshadows any work he does. The budget of Oblivion might have been enormous, but it wasn’t nearly as epic as Tommy’s appearance on Oprah, as amazing as his interview with Matt Lauer, nor as fascinating as his Scientology award video. The only role big enough for Tom Cruise is that of Tom Cruise.