I love it when authors adapt and direct their own works, because the films often bear signs of having been made with a little more care, a somewhat deeper affiliation with the story, and a more idiosyncratic visual expression. Authors-turned-directors tend to go about the project in a more auteurish manner than the average director, and although Oblivion is a story and film far too seated in a well-established sci-fi tradition to be groundbreaking or even very original, writer/director Joseph Kosinski has created a film with a certain self-reliance and a clear game-plan that it sticks too and is able to make effective.
Tom Cruise stars, with everything which that implicates of drive, enthusiasm and familiarity, as Jack 49, a drone repairman on a desolate future Earth, ostensibly abandoned of all human life after an alien invasion and subsequent nuclear war which the human race won. The humans have been evacuated to the Saturnian moon Titan, and Jack 49 and his partner (and lover) Victoria are among the workers left to keep things neat and tidy on an otherwise messy Earth. So far so good, but there's something or someone lurking in the shadows as Jack goes about his lonely, daily business on Earth...
Thematically, Oblivion is a crossover between classic post-apocalyptic films (of which there are too many to start mentioning) and a more recent and unusually interesting sci-fi flick called Moon. It is through its likeness to the latter that Oblivion is at its most interesting, bookended by a fine subplot involving Cruise and Olga Kurylenko, whose brilliant performance elevates the film and gives it the humanity and spirit it often otherwise lacks. For the most part, this is a film which promises more than it delivers, but at least the promise is alluring and attractive like a modern art exhibition (albeit one where you feel that you'd rather get to know the artist than buy one of his works), and the action is crisp and direct, which is often the case with Tom Cruise's films.
In the end, there are too many familiarities for Oblivion to make a really lasting impression, including a disappointing score by French electronica maestros M83, but Kosinski's ability to create captivating landscapes and moods makes this a more than watchworthy entry.