‘Oblivion’ is a sci-fi thriller from ‘Tron: Legacy’ director and visual effects wizard Joseph Kosinski. The movie is set on a devastated earth in the year 2077, sixty years after a war against an invading alien race called Scavs which humanity ultimately won albeit at a great price, as earth was rendered into an uninhabitable wasteland because the aliens destroyed the moon (causing cataclysmic natural disasters like tsunamis wiping out entire continents) and the humans retaliated with nukes. The surviving humans had since settled onto Titan, the sixth moon from Saturn, or reside on a giant tetrahedral orbiting spaceship known as ‘Tet.’ At least, this is the narrative we’re told at the beginning from the perspective of Jack Harper, aka Tech 49, a member of a two-person team tasked to support and maintain a network of drones employed to safeguard a series of resource extraction machines supplying Titan from alien incursions.
With this intriguing premise and the sympathetic protagonist Jack Harper, who's having dreamed flashbacks like Douglas Quaid in 'Total Recall,' 'Oblivion' manages to engage us in the best Philip K. Dick pulpy cerebral sci-fi mystery tradition. There's also a nice revelatory plot twist a la M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘The Village,’ and the final act pays tribute to Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ Unlike most sci-fi tropes cranked out by Hollywood nowadays, I find ‘Oblivion’ to be a welcome breath of fresh air because it relies on good old fashioned storytelling and does not try to overkill us with one mind-numbing action scene after another. This isn’t to say that ‘Oblivion’ doesn’t have its share of exciting action sequences and cool looking FX, however.
Stylish, entertaining, engrossing, well-paced and suspenseful, 'Oblivion' is a must-see for any sci-fi aficionado. Those who won't just because of who's starring in it, well, it's their loss.