Published Thursday, 14 June 2012
Not only can he carry a tune but he blows the roof off with a stunning performance as fading rock star Stacee Jaxx. You will not see or hear a more magnetic screen appearance in the cinema this year.
He's been a top gun, a pool hustler and deadly secret agent. But perhaps his most unlikely role may prove to be one of his best, strutting his stuff on stage as a heavy metal sex bomb. Rock Of Ages begins in full throttle with the stirring Guns N' Roses anthem 'Paradise City'. It takes a moment or two to work out that the screeching vocal is not Axel Rose's but in fact Tom Cruise!
Unfortunately, it takes another twenty minutes or so before we actually get to see Cruise's Stacee Jaxx and not before time, as Rock Of Ages is a middle of the road jukebox musical. Strung together with a classic collection of 80's rock, we follow a small town girl from Oklahoma Sherrie Christian (played by Julianne Hough), who heads for the Sunset Strip of LA dreaming of bigger hair and rock stardom. There she meets fellow metal wannabe Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) and together they become the Danny Zucco and Sandy Olsen of this Grease/Glee rock mash-up.
Camping it up with our two young leads are rock club owners Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand (with a strange brummie accent) and Chicago Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones as a campaigning Christian matriach.
But what elevates this cheesy rock opera is that Cruise missile of a supporting performance. Talented Tom has barnstormed in the background before, especially as ponytailed sex guru Frank Mackey in Magnolia and balding studio shark Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder.
Cruise performs with glam metal gusto Bon Jovi's 'Dead Or Alive', Poison's 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' and Def Leppard's 'Pour Some Sugar On Me'.
Best of all is a fantastic rendition of Foreigner's classic power ballad 'I Want To Know What Love Is' (and he does want to show you!). This he performs with lustful regret while cavorting with hot Rolling Stone reporter Constance Stack on his dressing room pool table.
Jaxx is a tortured tattooed troubador on the downward slide and about to play his final gig with his legendary band Arsenal. "I'm searching for the perfect song" he says "the perfect sound that will make you want to live forever".
Cruise conjures perfectly the pretentious rock stars of recent times;
supremely talented but difficult to work with, perpetually late and constantly nonsensical.
Completing his motley entourage is sleazy rock manager Paul Gill (played by Paul Giamatti) and 'Hey Man' the monkey, who almost steals the show with his simian scamping.
For a man who's nearly fifty, Tom Cruise is beyond nifty with flawless vocals. Great actors make you believe in every character they play. Cruise with more than forty films in thirty years rarely disappoints. I think a Golden Globe for Best Supporting actor in a Comedy/Musical awaits Stacce Jaxx early next year.
Rock Of Ages the movie rarely moves beyond its Broadway roots and the stagey showboating may be too much for some. But with a merry bunch of friends even the toughest cynic would find it hard not to sing along with 'Here I Go Again', 'I Can't Fight This Feeling' and 'Don't Stop Believin'.
Rock Of Ages (Cert 12a) is now on general release