The last time the esteemed Morgan Freeman was linked to an expensive adaptation of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi comic book, the film in question was Warner Bros.’ currently-defunct live-action Akira project. Jump to the present, and the Oscar-winner has instead signed on for a flick that’s far less controversial – and also sounds more promising – namely, director Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion adaptation.
Tom Cruise is headlining Kosinski’s followup to TRON: Legacy, which is based on an impending comic book series co-developed by the filmmaker. Freeman will appear in Oblivion (or whatever it ends up being officially titled) alongside the still-popular A-lister, as well as two up-and-coming starlets in the forms of Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough.
In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows.
Variety‘s Jeff Sneider is reporting that Freeman will costar in Oblivion as Malcolm Beech, the “leader of the human resistance” which (presumably) does battle with the invasive Scavengers, in an attempt to reclaim Earth. Those efforts will surely be affected by the “mysterious woman” known as Vika (Riseborough), who Jak (Cruise) finds himself inexplicably attracted to, even as her very existence changes his life.
Freeman, of course, is a great choice for any role that requires someone with a dignified yet authoritative screen presence – which is exactly what the part of Beech calls for. Chalk up another good casting move on Kosinski’s part, alongside that of Cruise as the film’s “reluctant” hero and both Riseborough and Kurylenko as, respectively, the film’s ethereal and working class female lead.
While no one denies that TRON: Legacy benefitted greatly from Kosinski’s sharp eye for visual composition and style, that film has long (and fairly) been criticized for offering up gorgeous 3D eye candy with weak story elements. Hence, it’s encouraging to hear that a good deal of effort is being put towards refining the screenplay for Oblivion – with input from multiple noteworthy scribes, including William Monahan (The Departed), Karl Gajdusek (Trespass), and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3).
Disney’s decision to drop Oblivion early on in development should also ultimately work in the project’s favor, seeing how its dark and action-packed storyline should turn out all the better when brought to life as an eye-catching, yet gritty, PG-13 sci-fi thriller (a la Minority Report) – and not the comparatively family-friendly adventure that the Mouse House reportedly wanted (a la TRON: Legacy).
Oblivion is slated to begin production by Spring 2012, in order to make its scheduled July 19th, 2013 U.S. theatrical release date.