In the future Earth gets invaded by aliens. They take most of the planet, but the humans obliterate most of them with nuclear weapons. So as the trails constantly say, “They won the war, but lost the planet.” Most of humans appear to be off world on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, and only a few remain behind to remove the last resources from Earth. Jack (Tom Cruise) is one of the few remaining and is in charge of repairing laser carrying scouting drones, while suffering from amnesia. Meanwhile his assistant Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) scoops out a map of the remote area where they live for any unusual signs of the remaining life or unusual activity. Meanwhile the Tet, and orbital space station, checks in with them every day for progress reports. Eventually Jack finds a wrecked escape pod from 60 years ago and finds people who were cryogenically frozen.
I’ll tell you right now that many people won’t like this film simply because it’s sci-fi and it has Tom Cruise in it. Please don’t let this spoil or deter your thoughts on seeing this movie, because it’s really good. It covers many of the big questions in life, like can people change or are people predestine to do certain things. If you pay attention it answers most of them. It also presents things in a really smooth way. It’s like watching a Earth bound space opera half the time due to the music and scenery.
This film uses some old hat cliches in the story line but it presents it in a different way that makes it a little different. The only thing that holds back the story from being perfect is the pacing. It spends a lot of time showing off impressive CGI or the destroyed wasteland of the future. To me this is fine, because it kinda adds to the impact of the previous war and how devastated everything is. Like there are a few scenes where Jack will fly past landmarks that have be almost remarked as indestructible or that you’d think would stand the strain of a war, but they’re scattered about and in complete ruins. It adds a certain sorrow to the film, while not being completely depressing. One of them is a key element in the story and, despite what it’s revered as at this current time (04/24/13). It’s has a take a softer meaning for the story, which is neat. To a certain extent I think some of the messages in the movie are forgotten due to the slow pace.
One of the things I really love about the movie is how it slowly draws you in. It hints at things and slowly displays them. Most of the mysteries come from Jacks memories. They push the story along while giving a almost eerie scene of tragic loss. It slowly builds to the point where you realize how pointless his, and a few others, existance truly is and what he’s done. So he then sets out to correct it all while still maintaining a sense of nobility and trying to help everyone as much as he can. Later in the movie it becomes more a action film then a sci-fi one. The revolt against the alien(s) is rather quick and, despite the fact they have a lot of technology, are beaten down. However through out it all it leaves you with a hopeful future for humanity.
The love scenes between Jack and Victoria are mildly erotic. It’s gets rather intense in some scenes. Although due to Victoria’s character ridged strict mindset and need to adhere to every rule set by the Tet quickly kills most romance. The later romance developed between Jack and Julia (Olga Kurylenko) isn’t overly romantic while still being interesting. Despite Jack having his memory wiped he remembers her. It later displays one of the big questions of “do people follow their heart or authoritative commands?” and it answers it quit nicely. So it basically helps display that people can still chose between whats right and wrong with little, to no, information.
The acting all around was rather good. Tom Cruise plays a little bit of a different role compared to most of his other roles. Usually he’s the front man and a is a assertive male authority figure or the ‘smooth’ guy in the movie (see Top Gun). In this movie he’s more of a nice loner who seems to be lost in deep thought half the time. So he played a nicer, almost, normal guy rather well. It was a refreshing change of pace. Morgan Freeman was great, but this was a different role. He had a very calm, and almost relaxed, presence to his character. I think it was things like his character and scenery that gave most of the movie a smooth, or almost ‘cool’, transitioning and revealed tension from various points in the movie. This kind of smooth transitioning helps move the story along in certain parts without making it too ‘in you face’ like some Michael Bay films. Andrea Riseborough was a great as a supporting role to Cruise but she was completely disarming. She was super positive, but underneath had alternative motives while still being completely naive at the same time. Olga Kurylenko was great as a love interest, but I thought her character would have a little more vocal when it came to verbalizing things. Don’t get me wrong, when push came to shove she jumped in and kicked ass like everyone else, but then she kinda played a ‘weak-little-girl’ persona which didn’t add up to some of the scenes. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was good, but it seemed like in some parts his character should have been angrier, or even more aggressive. I don’t want to say “you should ham it up,” but it seemed like certain scenes needed either more aggression out of him or a more assertive tone. Melissa Leo was good as well, but her character was disarming as well and if you haven’t seen to many sci-fi movies. She really wasn’t a aggressive character in the end which kinda made it a little weird, but given the circumstances there’s probably little she could have done.
This is one of my favorite sci-fi films to come out in the past few years. It’s beautifully shot and the music is soothingly hypnotic. It makes you feel like you’re in the future. The slow pacing, as said before, is the only thing I can really knock it on. If you love sci-fi as much as I do, then go see it. Try not to let some assumptions, or bias towards actors/actresses, ruin a otherwise great time.