DECLASSIFIED DRONE REPORT OF MISSION: OBLIVION
Instructions: Launch a critical drone at target and report back findings and observations regarding threats to American filmic interests.
Target: The movie Oblivion, reportedly harboring actors Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, and Morgan Freeman; under the direction of Joseph Kosinski.
Location: Any theater showing target movie.
Materieal: A critical drone, housed in a sleek semi-rounded white chassis the approximate size of a Honda Fit, that can zip around and hover over concession stands and in front of movie screens; comes equipped with spying devices, recording equipment, lasers and scanning beams — all designed to examine and review images projected in a theater of battle — and armed with devastating critical weaponry to eliminate offending threats to cinematic enjoyment.
Mission: Surveil target at location, use camera eyes to monitor target, record observations and impressions, gather any reconnaissance that might be useful in determining the value — or risk — of target to the American moviegoer; critically destroy offending material.
Mission Report: The critical drone was launched on 19 April 2013. After some roving around and perusing of a marquee, it secured the target at the location and performed its function. Mission duration: approximately 124 minutes. Mission observations and findings:
• 1910 hours: Critical drone observed a denuded desert landscape, which the drone surmised to be Earth in some distant future given the presence of decayed and half-buried landmarks and icons, such as the very top of the Empire State Building protruding above a dark, desolate, and sandy surface. The drone surmised that this imagery, although striking, was derivative of other dystopian targets, such as Planet of the Apes.
Threat assessment: This aspect of target is safe for glimpsing and pondering.
• 1915 hours: Amongst this seemingly depopulated landscape, drone recorded Tom Cruise portraying a Tom Cruise character exhibiting Tom Cruise-like behaviors (being macho, looking macho, saying macho things) in a contraption (white, sleek, roaring engines, percussive weapons) vaguely in the shape of a dragonfly or sperm cell as he flies over the landscape servicing other drones.
Threat assessment: Red alert! Tom Cruise’s “acting” presents a clear and present danger to American filmic interests.
Tom Cruise in Oblivion.
• 1925 hours: Drone observed a filmic drone that looked amazingly like a carbon copy of itself (an impressively imposing piece of hardware that zooms across the seemingly desolate landscape with roaring motors and powerful weaponry). The filmic drone, having been shot at by unknown assailants, crashed-landed in a broken-down, weathered football stadium and was witnessed being serviced by the Tom Cruise character as he engaged in Tom Cruise-like “strutting around” (pretending to be a football star); when drone is repaired a dog appeared out of nowhere, which was at risk of being eliminated by the reawakened filmic drone.
Threat assessment: Spotty; unfathomable that filmic drone could not comprehend the difference between an enemy combatant and a cuddly puppy (real drones know the difference, right?).
• 1930 hours: Female characters observed behaving like all other female characters in Tom Cruise films — love interests and/or damsels in distress for him to rescue.
Threat assessment: Mind-numbingly stereotypical.
• 1946 hours: It appeared that Tom Cruise and his female companion were the only ones left on Earth; their memories erased, they live and work from an opulent glass house atop a spire high above the surface so that they could monitor the drones, which in turn are seen guarding large machines that seemingly produce power, through some sort of ocean-sucking fusion technology, for an orbiting space station housing the remnants of the human population who are awaiting transport to Saturn’s moon Titan.
Threat assessment: Unknown; it’s clear that everything is not as it seems; had to perform additional surveillance to comprehend the intention of target’s trajectory; other critical drones might have been able, at this stage, to foresee where this target is heading and could assess the nature of any potential threats; nevertheless, target has the feel of many similar targets (The Book of Eli, Wall-E, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, etc. etc.).
• 1950 hours: The female love interest of the Tom Cruise character is glimpsed in their futuristic sky-house while, on a shiny table-top computer console and monitor, they are given instructions from a perky woman on a distant space station; instructions appeared odd, and they were not at all reflective of the reality of the situation on the ground.
Threat assessment: Typical of obtuse sci-fi plotting — and of distant command centers controlling drone behavior (and I don’t just mean Tom Cruise acting) so that those in control don’t have to get their hands dirty.
• 1957 hours: For unexplained reasons, filmic drone is witnessed opening fire on about five crash-landed pods containing human beings in suspended animation.
Threat assessment: Unknown; not enough information is given about the people in the pods, who they are and where they came from; could be some profiling is occurring, or just more collateral damage.
• 2003 hours: The Tom Cruise character is observed rescuing a female from one of the pods, who he also happens to recognize from many of his dreams; this second female character — also beautiful — becomes jealous precipitating a love triangle on top of all the sci-fi goings on.
Threat assessment: Requesting permission to groan.
• 2017 hours: Recorded filmic drone blasting away at what it perceived to be enemy combatants in a cave; turns out that these enemy combatants are not who they are purported to be and so the Tom Cruise character is caught in a dilemma about whether to save the enemy combatants or perform his job; many casualties are observed.
Threat assessment: More collateral damage, to characters and tolerance.
• 2035 hours: The Tom Cruise character is perceived to be struggling with a crisis of conscience while being chased by filmic drones, battling enemy combatants, rescuing females, juggling love interests, wrestling with himself, confronting aliens, averting global annihilation, zooming around on motorcycles, blasting things with phasers, kicking butt with fisticuffs, performing macho posturing, and confidently and cockily standing up to larger forces that seek to do harm.
Threat assessment: Same old, same old; but worth noting that special effects are cool.
• 2024 hours: Mission complete, existed target location. Awaiting further instructions.
Revised Mission: Return to target at the specified location and, using lasers and scanner beams, perform surgical strike on target and remove offending elements so as to make this a nonthreatening target. Avoid collateral damage. If unable to perform this mission, initiate self-destruct.
Doug Young is an award winning film critic who leaves May 10 to cover the Cannes Film Festival. He works in Gov. Hickenlooper’s office as a senior policy director.