Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Written by Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt [from a graphic novel by Joseph Kosinski]
Featuring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo
After a 60 year war with invading aliens, that the Earth won, Jack Harper and Victoria, “Vica”, with their memories wiped, are left to service the protective drones and resource generators that are mopping up the final resources of the planet. Soon they will follow the rest of the population to relocate and settle on Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan. Despite the memory wipe Jack seems to have memories of a woman in pre-war New York. This makes Jack’s job of protecting the generators from the remaining aliens or ‘Scavs’ and following the command stations orders harder – especially after a capsule from Earth orbit crashes and the one survivor Jack saves seems to be the woman he remembers.
This film is visually great. It is too long. Over two hours to tell a simple tale is, once again Hollywood, way too overindulgent.
If you watch this film and enjoy it then great, but on no account think too hard about it after it ends, otherwise it will quickly unravel like a cheap ball of wool. It does pain me when avid science-fiction fans say that good sci-fi is close to the truth and research has been done to make most scenarios plausible. If this is true then the writers and makers of science-fiction need to study harder.
How many films about invaders use the motivation of stealing the Earth’s resources? Quite a few. Yet as late as 2010 it was discovered that water was in huge abundance throughout the known universe, including a massive lake of it floating as water vapour not that far away from Earth [in astronomical terms]. In fact, the minerals, chemicals and elements that are on Earth are spread throughout the universe in abundance. There really is no need for any alien invaders to single us out to gain them. Science-fiction writers, think of a new scientific motivation that makes sense, please.
Then there is the technology. Invading the earth from billions of light years away but being beaten by nuclear weapons. I can’t reveal what else the invaders can do because it is a huge plot point but as usual with this superior beings, they only do a half-arsed job. Security? There has never been an alien invader that has this tight and locked-down. This film does not let us down with this tired and lazy cliché.
The acting? Tom Cruise is a good actor but he is not a generous actor. He has to be front and centre throughout most of his films and no one is allowed to upstage him, and that is exactly what happens in this film. He might try to come across as a good guy in the publicity circuit but I sense a massive ego a work. Morgan Freeman plays his stock ‘Morgan Freeman’ role, has a few lines, gets an obligatory ‘make me look like a hero’ action scene but must have laughed all the way the bank with the time he spent filming and his presumably huge cheque. British actor Andrea Riseborough is good but must feel like she sold her soul just to get her name on a cast list with Tom Cruise. I get that it is a great career and CV move but if I am brutally honest, I think she’s better than this. Still she put in good shift though. Her role seemed more realistic, even though she had a nude scene, wore tight dresses and, unbelievable, high stiletto heels. Come on Hollywood dinosaurs it is the 21st century. Olga Kurylenko comes from long line of bond girl actor/models but, hopefully only this in this film, she was very poor. Every line was delivered in a breathy, whispering way. In every scene she was visible ‘acting’ so you were immediately taken out of the film and scene. Finally, the film also featured Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo in smaller roles, both were criminally underused, particularly as they are both fine actors.
The list of silliness and planet-sized plot holes has been written up and noted elsewhere on the Internet and if I do the same it will only repeat what others have written about better than I have and with more style.
Needless to say, there is going to be a huge hard-core of filmgoers who will love this film for what it is. I did not blindly hate it but I really want more intellectually from a film that utilises the budget and star that this one did.
Entertaining science-fiction? Yes.
Intelligent, thoughtful, provocative science-fiction? Not at all, and for me the film ultimately fails because of this.
Ho-hum onto the next one then…