I love stupid movies. If I have a choice between a movie about fighting robots and a tearjerking, uplifting story of a stroke victim learning how to play the piano, I’ll take robots every time. If your movie has the aforementioned robots, spaceships, car crashes, interesting guns, or werewolves, I’ll probably see it.
Shit like that. I don’t normally look for subtle undertones in these movies because A)I’m there to shut my brain off and have lights flashed in my eyes for a while and B)There usually isn’t one. For instance, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation there is an extended montage of the soldiers finding hidden guns all over a house with which to retaliate (oh clever I get it now) against the bad guys. It’s overly long, and set to a trashy classic rock song. While I was watching it, I briefly thought, “Is this some sort of pro-2nd Amendment statement about houses stockpiled with guns?” and then The Rock head-butted a couch through a concrete wall and I put the thought out of mind.
But I’ve seen Oblivion twice now, and I can’t tell if there’s a strong, intentional underlying message behind it or not. By the way, this blog will contain plenty of spoilers, because you can’t talk about a movie without discussing plot points. If you haven’t seen it, stop here! No seriously! Okay, fine, but don’t complain to me about ruining it for you.
So for those of you who have seen the film, or never will, let’s recap the general plot:
Tom Cruise is a clone soldier for an occupying force whose job is to maintain unmanned drones which can safely be described as dangerous, unreliable, and easy to turn against him at a second’s notice. After Cruise meets the indigenous population (humans) he realizes he’s been a pawn for this insidious force that’s gobbling up Earth’s natural resources. He decides the only way to end this occupation is to kill himself alongside his true love as suicide bombers, which he then does (although he swaps out his pretty wife for ugly Morgan Freeman).
Sound familiar? Occupying force gobbles up Earth’s resources, uses unmanned drones to police areas with ‘hostiles’ trying to resist? Superior technological force can only be combatted by the commitment to sacrifice oneself with a bomb? This aptly describes both the plot of Oblivion and how plenty of cultures view the United States. But I don’t know if Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski intended this as a thought experiment, or it’s just a coincidence, set in a sci-fi world.
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page: I’m 100% against suicide bombing in real-life. Definitely. It’s the worst. But while you’re watching Oblivion, when T-Cruise and his wife (who is the age of a would-be daughter: gross) decide to fly up and kill themselves to end the occupation, it’s this stirring, selfless act. You definitely think of them as heroes. So if you adjust the parameters of suicide bombing so that it’s a clone (and an old dude) against an alien life form, it’s heroic? I’m trying to figure out the jump in logic here.
But perhaps most importantly, the film finally answers the question: What would it look like if Apple made military hardware?
If you’ve seen the movie I’d love your thoughts on it!