Oblivion (2013) Movie Ending Explained

The enigmatic Julia (Olga Kurylenko) surfaces from the mysterious past of Victoria's husband, Jack (Tom Cruise) Oblivion 2013

Oblivion (2013) Movie Ending Explained: Tom Cruise has a reputation for taking on grueling challenges and performing his stunts with an unrealistic level of ease and finesse. That is why he has built a reputation as a prominent action film star. The 2013 film – ‘Oblivion’ presents his usual action skills through a science fiction narrative with elements of romance drama. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic setting where human survival is discussed through its visually striking narration. It is directed by Joseph Kosinski, widely known for the blockbuster – Top Gun: Maverick.




Oblivion (2013) Plot

The screenplay of Oblivion is written by Karl Gajdusek and Michael Arndt and is based on a graphic novel written by Joseph Kosinski. The narrative begins with a dreamy sequence where Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) sees a woman (played by Olga Kurylenko) in the busy streets of New York City. While he senses that it is a dream, he feels that he has memories associated with her. He recalls it being reminiscent of how Earth looked like before the war. He wakes up in the present day and year – March 14th, 1977. It has been five years since he has gone through a mandatory memory wipe.

The enigmatic Julia (Olga Kurylenko) surfaces from the mysterious past of Victoria's husband, Jack (Tom Cruise) Oblivion 2013 Explained
The enigmatic Julia (Olga Kurylenko) surfaces from the mysterious past of Victoria’s husband, Jack (Tom Cruise), a repairman tending drones on a primarily abandoned Earth.



He is a veteran technician who was signed to fulfill a particular mission along with a woman named Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). After half a century of scavenger extraterrestrials having destroyed the Earth’s moon and ruined earth, they relocated Saturn’s largest moon. While they won the war, the planet became inhabitable. Most of humanity was wiped clean off the face of the earth. Before the migration, they had built the TET, a temporary space station. His mission is to stop the scavengers from disrupting their mission for the survival of humanity. Their job as a team is security and drone maintenance.

While looking at the remnants on Earth, he reaches a lot that was a massive stadium in the past. A dog appears out of nowhere and spooks him for a moment. Right afterward, a drone he worked on goes on its route. He and Vika / Victoria have been told that they are an effective team, and they both diligently continue with their mission to reach TET soon. While driving across, he notices a certain activity and gets inside a bottomless pit to learn about it. He finds something suspicious and tries to get out of it and escape.




The thread connecting him to the ground gets cut, and he falls. However, a drone starts shooting around and saves him at the moment. After returning to his base, he reads some lines from a poem that remind him that he cannot put a finger upon. He also feels that before, people on the ground were not trying to kill but catch him for some reason. The next day, during his journey, he comes across the Empire State Building, reminding him of his dreams’ vision. He goes on a perimeter check and finds a natural habitat.

He comes across a house in the wilderness filled with books and domestic objects. After sighting an object in the sky, he leaves the place to trace it and comes across a burning field where he sees one of their drones attacking survivors. While Vika is adamant about thinking it to be the act of scavengers, he does not see any signs of them. He sees a woman and rescues her from the erratically acting drone. He brings her back to their base, and the woman immediately recognizes him. She is the same woman that he sees in his dreams. Her name, he learns, is Julia, a NASA astronaut.




Once she regains consciousness, they tell her that she is the only person who can survive among her troop. They keep mentioning the passage of 60 years, and she finds it hard to believe. Meanwhile, even when Jack trusts her, Vika feels unsure about Julia’s roots and motives. The next day, he goes along with Julia to learn what happened to her ship and her peers. Vika notes that she cannot protect him in that case, but he cuts the contact with her. When they reach this spot, he gets attacked by a person whose identity is masked beneath helmet and dark clothes. This is the same person he sees before rescuing Julia.

He finds himself tied to a chair in the Raven Rock Mountain Complex when the leader Beech (Morgan Freeman), tells him that they are scavengers hiding from the drones that can access their shapes and voices. He speaks about their plan to save humanity against the drones that also nearly killed him (Jack). Sergeant Sykes (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) does not like the idea of bringing Jack to their troop. However, Beech wants him to use his intelligence as a scientist to help their cause. They have a nuke and a drone (they get hold of before), and Jack can access it, unlike them. Beech wants him to help them win the war. He is still reluctant to accept their proposal.




While the troop is about to take the lives of him and Julia, drones start swarming outside their base. So, Beech frees both of them to learn the truth in a desert known as a radiation zone. When Julia reveals that she is Jack’s wife, it reminds him of proposing the Empire State Building to her. Victoria decides to help them both escape, but upon learning about this information, a drone sent by their commander Sally gets her killed. Meanwhile, while fleeing on their jet, Jack and Julia come across Jack’s clone in a desert. While she gets shot during their encounter, he goes to his clone’s base and finds a clone of Victoria.

What does Jack learn about Sally and their past?

While Jack manages to recover Julia with the available medical supplies, he learns crucial details about himself that alter his perception of the present. Upon returning to Raven’s Rock, Beech informs them that TET is an A.I. ship that uses several clones of Jack to destroy the Earth’s moon and extract the planet’s natural resources. Jack realizes that he has been fed many lies about Earth’s victory and their escape to Titan.

The survivors on earth were left with no other option but to bring the Odyssey down (a spaceship) to get its nuclear reactor, which is suitable for interplanetary travel. Jack reprograms a captured drone to sabotage the TET with a bomb, but other drones attack their base. As a result, Malcolm gets severely injured. The reprogrammed drone gets destroyed in this chaos beyond repair. Jack and Julia decide to detonate the bomb on their own and convey a passionate goodbye.




Oblivion (2013) Movie Ending Explained

Does humanity survive the danger of destruction? 

On their way, Jack listens to a flight recorder from the Odyssey, which reveals shocking information about his past. He realizes he is a clone of the NASA mission commander, who was previously sent to explore Saturn’s moon – Titan. He also learns that Victoria was his co-pilot back then, whereas Julia was a new crew member. Sally, who was their commander now, was the Earth mission director. Their mission was interrupted due to the TET, and he and Victoria were later captured and cloned. Since Victoria was jealous of his relationship with Julia, she manipulated him into believing they had a romantic relationship.

After entering the TET, Jack sees several clones of him and Victoria. While Sally threatens to sabotage his plan for saving humanity, he offers to hand over Sally to her. However, when he pretends to do so to trick her, Beech comes out of the box instead of Julia. Jack recalls a line he read in one of the books from his base, written by Horatius, which says – ‘How can a man die better than facing fearful odds, the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods?’ While Sally threatens to destroy him since she is the one who created him (the clone), he detonates a bomb with Beech.




As a result, TET is obliterated, and Raven Rock’s troop sees an explosion in the sky. At the same time, they also get killed in the same. Three years after this incident, Julia starts living in a house (from before) reminiscent of Christina’s world and raises their daughter. The troop members who survived the war meet her and one of Jack’s clones (the one he sees in the desert). Despite being a clone, he has recovered all the memories of the NASA astronaut. Through that, the film attempts to convey the determination and will of the human spirit to win over the odds of selfish and destructive forces in authority.


Related: Prometheus (2012) – Of Visual Beauties And Faltered Ambitions


Oblivion (2013) Trailer

Oblivion (2013) Movie Links: IMDb Rotten Tomatoes
Oblivion (2013) Cast: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman

Where to watch Oblivion (2013)
Akash Deshpande

Obsessed, fascinated, and always nerding out about cinema! You can find me in the corner of a room ruminating over the last TV series I watched.