Tom Cruise plus Penelope Cruz sounds like a winning combination. The math seems even better when you add actress Cameron Diaz and director Cameron Crowe, two of Hollywood's hippest young talents.
You need a screenplay to complete the equation, and that's where the "Vanilla Sky" team stopped playing it safe. Remaking a Spanish thriller called "Open Your Eyes," they whipped up a mind-spinning fantasy in which almost nothing is what it seems.
It packs many surprises, but living in this dream world means swallowing far-fetched plot twists by the dozen.
Cruise plays a media magnate who's more successful than sensitive - remember "Jerry Maguire," anyone? - until a gorgeous new girlfriend (Cruz) reminds him there's more to life than sex and money.
Or is there?
Wooing her means ditching his current lover (Diaz) and elbowing his best friend (Jason Lee) out of the picture. He promptly does both without batting a well-shaped eye.
You might shed a tear at this in an ordinary movie, but here you're too busy figuring out additional mysteries, introduced in fragmentary scenes that make little sense until a minor character explains them near the end. Why is our hero accused of murder? Why do Cruz and Diaz keep switching places? Why do weird scientists pop into the story?
In the end, "Vanilla Sky" resembles a fast-and-flashy variation on "The Sixth Sense," with touches of "The Matrix" as a bonus. Look for it to skyrocket at the box office.
Rated R; contains sex, violence, and strong language.