Eliza and Watson’s Problem Child Tet: Oblivion (2016)

I loved my Commodore 64. There wasn’t much to it. It’s biggest limitation was my imagination, meaning what I put in is exactly what I got out. Considering my Kung Foo sucks, my Commodore 64 was a piece of shit. Reminds me of the old programming acronym GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

All of which reminds me of Oblivion, specifically the “advanced” computer systems. Sophisticated as it was, this was no Mister Fusion Home Energy Reactor. It was like a leaking colostomy bag. From the garbage, i.e. the movie, that was the output there must have been some heinous shit fed into the creative cogs.

Well, that’s not entirely fair, the movie on the whole isn’t garbage. Garbage has the nasty connotation of being disgusting and wasteful. Oblivion is more compost. You don’t want to bring it into, or close to, the house but it does work wonders fertilizing the garden.

The big is a gapping plot point is deliberately overlooked, and when noticed the story completely falls apart.

Note: Normally I don’t like to ruin a movie with spoilers in my reaction, but here I have to. If I don’t you’ll want to punch me in the nuts for not warning you. Instead, I refer you to the filmmakers, who deserve it.

The year is 2077. The Earth fought, and won, a war with invading aliens, Scavs (scavengers). Despite the victory, Earth was destroyed. The surviving population has moved to Titan save two people, Tech 49, Jack (Tom Cruise), and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). They are a sentry team commissioned with watching watering purification machines which are scrubbing the Earth’s oceans for water for the settlement. Two weeks before they are scheduled to leave, Jack starts having doubts about their mission.

Everything in their tower is computerized. There are special drones flying about guarding the water purification machines and hunting Scavs. Orbiting Earth is the Tet, the space station/ship which is the be all, end all control system for everything Earthside. Now, we’re supposed to believe in all this advanced technology, with all kinds of automated systems and safety overrides and what have you. Yet, somehow, when our hero goes on a runner with his airship thing, the drones have to go after him. Suddenly there’s no way to shut down his ship? No way to take control and auto pilot it home (though Jack did it in an earlier scene)?

Granted, the argument can be made that I’m just Comic Book Nerd nit picking. Maybe Jack flipped the override switch which killed the ability to remotely control his ship. Fine. I’ll acquiesce. But my next point can’t be overlooked, nor forgiven.

[Begin Spoilers]

The big twist is Jack is one of, at the very least, 52 clones on the planet, probably more. All of the Jacks are ignorant of one another. They’ve been kept in their particular areas with the threat of fatal levels of radiation all around their sections. When Jack #49 learns about his other selves, his ship crashes. He takes Jack #52’s ship. He then goes to meet the Tet—in ship number #52.

Uhm, wait a minute. The super computer knows it’s Jack #49. Its advanced technology scans his ship before letting him enter, but fails to notice this glaring discrepancy? Seriously? We’re supposed to believe not ONE of the sensors picks up he’s in a ship he shouldn’t even know about?

Of course it didn’t, because the writers backed themselves into a corner and well, fixing it would be too much trouble, so they just pretended like they didn’t notice this, hoping maybe the audience wouldn’t either.

Considering that this is a Tom Cruise summer action flick, it was a fair gamble. Had I been properly medicated (my marijuana is medicinal, I have the glaucoma from watching all these movies) I wouldn’t have noticed it. Oblivion might have even made it level with Die Hard 6. But, I hadn’t refilled my prescription, so I partook with an unabated mind.

I tend to be forgiving where summer blockbusters are concerned but sometimes they step too far beyond the suspension of disbelief. This is a decent sci fi flick, worth watching on Netflix or if it happens to be starting on some cable station right as you sit down to watch TV. If you happen to miss it, don’t worry. You’re not missing much.

Post Script

For those who have no idea what the title refers to:

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