There is something increasingly disturbing, creepy even, about Tom Cruise.
As his blockbuster career bludgeons its way ever deeper into the nether regions of febrile male fantasy, you can’t help but think that the brain of the bubble-boy hero, infected with the mumbo jumbo of Scientology, has gone with it.
Hollywood’s invincible champions of justice and the American way, a dime a dozen, have never been known for their fallibility or introspection, but the contemporary audience’s taste for irony has gradually led to a softening of their steely hubris – the wonderful Bruce Willis has led the way by introducing self-parody to the hard man’s repertoire.
Tom has not had a bar of this evolution. Instead he gives the impression that he actually believes the malarkey that his characters embody, that he is that awesome avenging angel.
This time he is Cage, an at-first reluctant warrior encased from head to toe in a ridiculous, Transformer-type full-metal uniform with guns protruding everywhere from it.
He and Rita (Emily Blunt), similarly decked out, are leading the fightback mission that will liberate Europe from the terror of an omnipotent invading force – it goes without saying in the movies that engagement with outer-space organisms, when it comes, will be bellicose.
The aliens, multi-legged dragon things, have the temperament of rabid dogs and, boy oh boy, Tom’s really got his work cut out for him – it’s just as well he has Rita and dishevelled professor Noah Taylor on his side.
The brain-strain that you must negotiate before you get to the ultimate Big Fight concerns the ability of Omega, the enemy’s core, to wind the clock back to re-start time whenever events run against it.
This means that poor Tom gets shot in the scone by Emily every time he makes a blunder, leaving him to wake up afresh at the beginning of the ACTION PACKED adventure. It’s a bit like Groundhog Day meets Slaughterhouse Five, with neither the humour of the former nor the wisdom of the latter.
~ John Campbell