Vanilla Sky (15)

Review by Jack Foley

TOM Cruise reunites with Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe for a remake of Alejandro Amenabar's Spanish movie Open Your Eyes -but anyone expecting a rehash of the duo's earlier collaboration may be in for a big surprise.

Vanilla Sky is one of the boldest movies of Cruise's career - a part romance, part thriller, part science fiction tale which requires the audience to pay close attention or risk getting lost amid the plot changes.

Whether they will ultimately like the direction the movie takes them in remains to be seen, however, for few will be able to predict the twists contained within.

The film starts on familiar territory, with Cruise playing David Aames, the type of brash, arrogant womaniser that was his hallmark during the early part of his career. But it then takes an about turn, throwing you into a murder mystery and then, even more alarmingly, a science fiction fantasy.

Aames pays the ultimate price for two-timing Cameron Diaz's mixed up Julie Gianni with his best friend's new flame, Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz reprising her role from the original), and is horribly disfigured in a car crash which, in turn, sends his life into a self destructive journey towards... well, to give away too much more would be wrong.

However, it is the resolution of Aames's journey which is likely to leave fans either scratching their head in bewilderment or emerging suitably impressed at the outcome.

And while I must confess to not being totally convinced by everything, I feel I must tip my hat to Crowe and Cruise for turning out a mainstream movie which dares to be different.

For there are enough moments in Vanilla Sky to make it a film that is genuinely worth seeing no matter what you may ultimately think of it. Crowe grabs the viewers' attention from the start, opening with a surreal shot of Cruise in a deserted Times Square at the height of the morning rush hour, and seldom loosens his grip throughout, drawing terrific performances from every one of his cast.

Cruise, whose smile is in danger of becoming as big a star as the actor himself, is typically on form, while Diaz is simply stunning as the devoted but unhinged jilted lover. Needless to say, Cruz is suitably sultry as the object of Cruise's desires and the duo do have chemistry. Kurt Russell also crops up as a somewhat confused psychiatrist attempting to unravel Cruise's past, while the likes of Jason Lee, as Cruise's best friend, and even Timothy Spall, as the family lawyer, provide reliable support.

Ultimately, however, the success of the film will be determined on whether audiences will like to be challenged by it. And given that some critics have already confessed to being totally confused, it remains to be seen whether audiences will have the patience to stick with it, or even be bothered to venture back for a second viewing.

To read a review of the movie's soundtrack, click here.