Wednesday, 17 April 2013

REVIEW - OBLIVION


Oblivion is a drizzle, and I wanted a downpour. Balancing sci-fi, romance and action, Joseph Kosinski proves a decent director of all three, to varying degrees, but leaves visible seams between them, and probably could have done with trimming them all to some extent. That he takes his time allows each aspect of Oblivion to develop in turn, which is most welcome, but it stretches the runtime considerably - the net effect is one of a botched epic, with all of the bricks and none of the mortar. Tom Cruise is at ease in a role that prises out thankfully little of his usual saccharine schtick, although some early scenes are blighted by it. Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo - a cast all thoroughly at ease. But this just exacerbates the dramatic inertia, and the sensation that Oblivion's narrative has been pre-determined by convention. Even the twists, which supposedly ought to turn the whole thing on its head, are predictable and bathetic. The mythology which underpins Oblivion is not devoid of value, but Kosinski expects both too much and too little of his audience, explaining when there's no need to explain, then leaving major plot points suspended, vague, when there's certainly a need to explain. Thank goodness for Andrea Riseborough, who reliably lifts this film to a higher plain every time she's on screen. All the technical and design wizardry grows ever less impressive as things progress, but Riseborough's contribution in a potentially dud role is what makes Oblivion worth sitting through, even as Kosinski eventually jettisons her for cliched action scenes and crude sentimentality.