The Problem with Tom

Yep – I am talking about movies – again – but this time more of a conundrum than a review.
I think I am going to have to completely re-consider my position on Tom Cruise.

There is a distinct possibility that I have super-imposed a larger-than-life, awkward, blustering and pretentious T-Cruise, over the actual T-Cruise…and I am only now, as I re-watch some of his films – beginning to see the gap between the two.

The weird scientology-leanings – the Oprah – the Katie Holmes – the various Rumours – etc – have all impacted me and my perception of him – to the point that if I saw a movie with him in it – I would generally roll my eyes and move on. Quick smart.

They, (yes the euphemistic entities that control the world’s flow of information) talk about any publicity, being good publicity, and bad publicity still being good, because it means at least they’re still talking about you —- a suspect concept at best; But in relation to the T-Cruise???
It has completely over-impacted his worth – to the point that the world (or at least me) recognise an unfortunate and unlikable version of what seems to be a fairly solid actor – with an excellent sense of comedic timing and a rather formidable set of arms.

I will present my  re-watched evidence thus far.

  • Knight & Day
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  • The Edge of Tomorrow

Item 1: Knight & Day

Yes, yes – I can hear y’all complaining loudly – ‘But Knight & Day is possibly the worst movie to grace the screen ever – and that includes Gigli (2003), Glitter (2001), The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?(1964), Batman & Robin (1997), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and An American Hippie in Israel (1972)’
And I would completely agree – it IS one of the most terrible movies of all time – but in my re-watch – I solely lay the blame at Cameron Diaz’s perfectly pedicured feet.
She is screeching, wooden, completely without depth, unable to adapt, TSTL and utterly unbelievable as a mechanic who restores cars.

Yes indeed it does – they all add up to a character that is uninterestingly awful.

In comparison, the T-Cruise is urbane, witty, slightly self-deprecating, and shoulders the very heavy burden of pretending a chemistry actually exists between his-not-too-shabbily-proportioned-self and the screaming blonde hyena that is Diaz’s June.

I honestly can’t get at the idea that this self-sufficient, completely focused and to all intents and purposes, over-achieving spy, would see anything in June. And the fact that he has to keep drugging her to keep her quiet and safe??? Concerning at the least, and singularly baffling at the most. Where in the world would you find time to fall in love with a person who you had to drug to get anything useful done?

It’s supposed to be a comedy – perhaps a satirical nod to the spy-genre and maybe a little bit of spoof? But it is more depressing to see T-Cruise acting his little coal-like heart out and completely out-matching Diaz on every level.

See? Watch it again – And tell me I’m wrong.

Item 2: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

My original watching of this was 23 mins and 45 sec. I am sad to say, I missed it in theatres and bought the DVD on special, from Kmart, and started watching it one rainy saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, I, for some inexplicable reason, was unable to get past the 24 minute mark – and really – shame on me for not persevering.

My re-watch – this time a rainy Sunday afternoon – is so vastly different, that I honestly wonder why I hated on it so much the first time.

I wonder if movies do indeed appear differently to you depending on your space of mind. But it wasn’t just me – I lent it to a couple of people (copyright police, avert your eyes!) interested in their conclusion and the responses I got back were:
– I couldn’t finish it
– It was crap

So what’s different?
T-Cruise is believably rugged, muscled and plays his part with a little panache. He escapes to the tune of Dean Martin, wriggles out of capture with a paper clip, and whilst there is not a lot that is new, believable or particularly based in reality – he does it with style, timing and soupçon of brute force.

The music is stalwart, the russians nasty and the masks/disguises whilst being a little outlandish, are only slightly unbelievable – much better than the masking spectacular of MI 2. I always felt there should be song & dance numbers, tight leather pants and naval-plunging shirts to go with that rainbow spectacular…

Incidentally – Why do you think Russians make such excellent baddies? Is it the accent? The communist leanings? the fact that their country is so cold, the only thing to keep your tootsies warm is the thought of death, mayhem or revenge? I don’t know – but I prefer them to the pirouetting and somersaulting extravaganzas that seem to make up the majority of Asian Baddies at any rate…
They are broad of forehead, square of jaw, monosyllabic of conversation and more trigger-happy than a red neck at a tailgating convention.

I particularly liked the part where the Russian Policeman (?) leans out the hospital window, lights a cigarette and coolly remarks to Ethan that its ‘not a good idea’ to jump 4 stories down into a dumpster, to which T-Cruise replies – ‘seemed like one, a minute ago…’

The Russian nods and then beckons him back inside the window, with complete confidence.

Only Ethan, in an instantaneous decision, whips off his belt, and flying foxes his way down an electrical line, wipes out on the top of a van, and bounces off onto the road. I particularly like his rather surprised expression as he does a quick testicles, spectacles, wallet and watch check and realises that he’s still in one piece.

At 45 minutes into the movie: they have escaped prison, been blown up, shot at, hospitalised, escaped again, shot at again, crashed and drowned – and it’s been less than 24 hours. T-Cruise has worn a wife beater singlet, lost his shirt twice, and somewhere decided along the way that its just easier to wear only jackets and pants; leaving his ruggedly ripped abs displayed for all and sundry. This would be one of my only beefs: I understand he’s old and fairly unique in that he can take his shirt of and not be ashamed – but really? It’s Russia — it’s COLD – you should be wearing layers, thermal underwear and definitely SHIRTS!

At 50 minutes:

‘ok, to the extent that I understand what you’re talking about here, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and you want to alter its infrastructure, with the hopes of convincing two people that they’ve had a meeting, which never actually really happened. Right?’

At 55 minutes:

Ethan Hunt is crab crawling up the outside of the tallest building in the world, with only a pair of magnetic/adhesive gloves between him and footpath bubblegum – I’m already stressed – and out of nowhere the biggest f’ing sandstorm I’ve ever seen develops and flies right toward them.

At this point – I am too tense to eat.

Phew! I must to stop for rest break.

Things I find interesting about Ghost Protocol:

  • It’s like stripping in stages:
    • Jeremy Renner is always taking his jacket off and leaving it places.
    • Tom Cruise is always losing his shirt for the slightest reason.
    • Simon Pegg wears more layers than both of them put together…possibly because he was hesitant to display all his English skin in the same arena as the buffed and toned Americans? Because lets face it – very few English men ever look good without their shirt on. (Even Hugh Grant makes you wish he’d kept it on (Notting Hill; Music & Lyrics; anyone?)
  • When anyone means business – they whip off their ties

  • No matter where you are; there is always someone in a submarine watching

  • Bad men seem to always wear white suits
  • There is still a place for the corny end-of-road, save-the-day one-liner: in this case it was ‘Mission Accomplished’ Gahhh.

Item 3: Edge of Tomorrow

The Edge of Tomorrow slipped into the movie-watcher’s consciousness, not with a bang, but with a whisper. With very little promotion, hardly any airtime; it was out on DVD before I even realised it was a new movie.
The added bonus of Emily Blunt (I’d watch pretty much anything with her in it) plus robots, war and large action-type explosions guaranteed I would purchase it.

See? she’s just so dang cool!

The story, based on Hiroshi Sikurazaka’s novel, is like a combination of a 1940’s war movie, added to an alien invasion, with the added bonus of a time-slip plot just to razzle everything up.

But T-Cruise was a wholly unexpected very welcome addition to the film. He is a little bit older…but then, so are we. He is still GI-Joe handsome of face, but, (to plagiarise another film) now a little bit squidgy around the edges.

He is believable as the squirmy Major, who doesn’t want to get his suit dirty in the frontline of war; but he also makes the transition throughout the movie to a determined and heroic soldier, prepared to sacrifice for the greater good of humanity. As the story restarts and retells, the growth is organic and by the end of the film, it’s hard to recognise those unsavoury traits, or indeed, even that character in him from the beginning.
I say it again – Tom Cruise is REALLY good in this; the movie is complex and Tom Cruise’s Major William Cage grows, adapts and incorporates that complexity without faltering in stride.

And its even a little bit funny:

(I guess you had to have been there…)

If you haven’t seen it – I would definitely recommend –

So you see? I’m going to have to un-judge and re-watch most, if not all, Tom Cruise movies… A salutary lesson in books and covers and pots meeting kettles I would say.

And what about you???

PS: I put a Tom Cruise image at the top of the Post – but frankly that google search was waaay too much – I am officially creeped out by T-Cruise’s Smile – so I leave you with this:

Yep. So that happened.


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