In 2077 Jack Harper (Cruise) is a drone repair man on what is left of Earth. He lives in a house suspended in the clouds with his female mission controller, their every need catered for as they enjoy ‘another day in paradise’, making an effective team under the control of TET head office.
The moon remains shattered in the night sky following a World War to rescue the planet from an alien invasion sixty years before. A war that was won but necessitated all remaining humans to leave for Titan’s moon to start a new life. The power for the moon is provided by colossal machines pulling resource from the sea, protected by drones against ‘Scav’s’, which is where Jack comes in. The drones are wonderful characters, like “Pixar’s” EVE but with a very bad attitude, great sound effects and guns, lots of guns.
Jack and Victoria’s (Riseborough) life is pretty good. Their apartment in the sky is every Apple fanboy’s wet dream and with the added benefit of naked night-time dips in their suspended pool, the daily grind is easily forgotten about.
Jack however, has occasional flashbacks, remembering a woman he knew at the Empire state building, only snatches but nonetheless disturbing as both Victoria and himself had voluntary mind wipe to enable optimum mission effectiveness. The team and especially Jack’s sorties to the surface are monitored minute by minute by ‘Sally’ (Leo), rather oddly with a strong southern drawl, back at TET.
Forays to the surface are usually uneventful, Jack repairs drones, gets them back online, fights off occasional ‘Scav’ incursions, stays away from the radiation zone and looks forward to his next night-time swim. Most of the audience would think, this is not so bad, sign me up.
However, Jack has doubts and finding the occasional discarded book, he starts to think, feel and yearn for a simpler life, perhaps more than is best for him. This gets noticed but not by who you would expect.
The story, like a hyperactive magpie borrows and steals from many more famous Sc-Fi films to pull together a more thoughtful film than you might have been expecting. There is very effective action but the movie is not about blowing stuff up or killing hordes of aliens, there is intelligence here and for once, it is mostly in the script.
Cruise sells this better than anyone one around, increasingly a divisive figure due to his personal life, he arguably remains our only remaining true old fashioned film mega-star. He acts well here and holds the film together, with excellent support from Riseborough as his mission buddy. The film is yet another example of the point we have now reached, where state of the art effects allow the world the characters live in to be displayed seamlessly, yet with no obvious effects at all.
Visually and sonically, the film is outstanding. Director of ‘Tron Legacy’ Joseph Kosinski and his team, no stranger to green screens, have been so effective that it appears that they just shot the film as live action by just filming what was there. This no doubt contradicts the months of effects work of various kinds, to put such a film on the screen, truly impressive and ground breaking in it’s own way.
The film also allows Cruise to indulge his passion for riding, motorbikes, abseiling and flying cool pretend spaceships, all whilst wearing flash shades. It would not have taken long for him to to sign on the dotted line. Cruise also gets to team up with Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurlylenko in roles that would be a spoiler alerts. Despite Kurlynko’s obvious appeal, Freeman’s voice is as usual the main attraction here.
Flaws, occasionally the film is heavy on American iconography and the link to Baseball and American football can seem rather indulgent in today’s world movie market. The story is not always easy to follow but some thought afterwards, should most plot pieces together in the right order.
The film is free of any notable graphic violence and despite some tasteful nudity and one very well deserved profanity, free of anything else that would annoy a family audience. A treat in modern blockbuster movies.
Considerably more intelligent than most Sci-Fi blockbusters, light on action but portraying a created but wholly believable world, beautifully realised.
An enjoyable Sci-Fi thriller, at times derivative but in an age when everything has been done, this still manages to find a new angle and makes a solid start to the summer blockbuster season.