If planet Earth was decimated by a series of earthquakes and tsunamis, followed by an alien invasion designed to exterminate the pockets of human resistance, you’d stake money on Tom Cruise emerging unscathed from the melee.
The 50-year-old actor has survived three divorces and the very public humiliation of leaping around on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa with his box office cache and nice-guy reputation intact.
In Oblivion, a ponderous post-apocalyptic thriller based on a graphic novel, Cruise is one of the last men standing after planet Earth is reduced to a radiation-poisoned wasteland by a pernicious race.
Survivors have been evacuated to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, leaving behind small teams to protect the giant machines that extract vital resources to power mankind’s new home.
Drone maintenance officer Jack Harper (Cruise) and his partner, Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough), are two weeks away from retirement on Titan when he rescues an astronaut (Olga Kurylenko) from a crashed space shuttle.
This gung-ho act, in direct violation of orders from controller Sally (Melissa Leo), brings the former Marine into contact with a grizzled resistance leader, Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman), and his right-hand man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
‘It’s time to learn the truth,’ booms Malcolm, hinting at a convoluted conspiracy that provides Cruise with the perfect excuse to perform impressive acrobatics amid a blitzkrieg of digital effects.
Oblivion looks stunning, with a lightly colour-bleached palette that accentuates cold metal greys and blues.
Looks aren’t everything, though, and the script’s philosophical musings about humanity and self-sacrifice are almost as flimsy as the central love triangle that fails to ignite the emotional afterburners for a slam-bang finale.