With elements lifted from virtually every sci-fi classic in film history, this post-apocalyptic adventure feels eerily familiar but features just enough plot twists and emotional resonance to make it enjoyable. Director Kozinski (Tron Legacy) also makes sure it looks amazing, with cool-looking sets and gadgets and an entertaining use of destroyed New York and Washington landmarks.
It also gives Cruise a slightly more internalised character than he usually plays in big blockbusters. He's Jack, a repairman 60 years after aliens blasted the moon to bits, causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Now it's 2077 and the remnant of humanity is being evacuated to Saturn's moon Titan, while mop-up teams help protect giant resource-gathering machines from alien scavengers. Jack works Sector 49 with his partner Victoria (Riseborough), but has vivid, impossible dreams of a life on pre-war Earth with a mysterious woman (Kurylenko). When she suddenly turns up in an ancient spacepod, and Jack discovers a scrappy group of human survivors led by Beech (Freeman), he begins to wonder what's really happening here.
And so do we, since we have begun doubting the entire set-up from Jack's opening narration. Mission commander Sally (Leo) looks very shifty indeed, and there's something vaguely fishy about all of the sleek glass, steel and plastic technology. As Jack's gleaming white leather outfit becomes increasingly murky, so does his simplistic view of his own life. And Cruise holds the film together nicely with an introspective turn as a man who's just enigmatic enough to engage our interest. Riseborough and Kurylenko, meanwhile, get much juicier roles, providing strongly emotional layers to the story. And Freeman and Leo add a bit of class.
As things develop, Kosinski dribbles out revelations that continually shift the story into new directions. We can tell this is the kind of movie that will have more than one reality-bending twist in it, but we can't predict what these might be, so watching the film is kind of like experiencing the events through Jack's foggy memories. This creates a strong sense of deja vu as we see elements borrowed from films like Solaris, 2001, Logan's Run, Independence Day and rather a lot of Wall-E. But Kosinski makes sure it all looks fantastic, with expert camerawork, set design and effects. So even if it's not nearly as deep as it seems, it's still thoroughly entertaining.
Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy
Run time: 124 mins
In Theaters: Friday 19th April 2013
Box Office USA: $89.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $286.2M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Monolith Pictures (III), Chernin Entertainment, Radical Studios
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 122 Rotten: 105
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Screenwriter: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt
Starring: Tom Cruise as Jack, Morgan Freeman as Beech, Olga Kurylenko as Julia, Andrea Riseborough as Victoria, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Sykes, Melissa Leo as Sally, Zoë Bell as Kara, Abigail Lowe as Julia's Child, Isabelle Lowe as Julia's Child, David Madison as Grow Hall Survivor, John L. Armijo as NASA Ground Control, Fileena Bahris as Survivor, Joanne Bahris as Tourist, Andrew Breland as Survivor
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