Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:34AM
The continued Phoenix-from-the-ashes story continues for Tom Cruise. Once a lead pipe lock in Hollywood, Cruise suffered a major public image crisis beginning in 2005, exacerbated it the next year, and looked like a fading star after Lions for Lambs - the first film released by Cruise the studio head - became his worst-performing wide release ever in the fall of 2007.
It's amazing what a cameo can do, though. Tropic Thunder showed a different side of Cruise and audiences responded. So, too, have studios and producers. Although you couldn't call Valkyrie a blockbuster, Cruise has lined up a few projects in the past several months, including The Matarese Circle, a Robert Ludlum adaptation to be directed by David Cronenberg. And now, Cruise is going to Wichita.
Said to be an action comedy, Wichita will re-team Cruise with Cameron Diaz, who also isn't the star she used to be. James Mangold (Walk the Line) will direct a script that has been thoroughly worked over, according to Variety, and 20th Century Fox is targeting a summer 2010 release.
Cruise would play a spy who "pops in and out of the life of a single woman," and we would assume that woman to be Diaz. The trouble spots for me are that the central idea isn't terribly compelling, the actors don't traditionally have very good chemistry with many of their co-stars, and the script has had more re-writes than you'd like.
However, I do like Mangold, and he was able to manufacture great chemistry between Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon where there apparently was none. Still, I'm not exactly doing backflips.