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The Good, the Bad and the Badass: Tom Cruise

06.02.2014

Last week, we took a look at the career of the gorgeous Angelina Jolie. One of her most popular films, SALT, was actually conceived as a star vehicle for this week's subject, a guy who's been arguably the biggest star on the planet for close to thirty years now...

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise has been making movies for as long as I've been alive. I was born in '81, the year he first showed up in TAPS, although as a proper movie star his career really began two years later with RISKY BUSINESS. As far back as I can remember, I've been a huge fan of his. TOP GUN was a touchstone movie of my youth, with it being a cable staple throughout my childhood. I've easily seen it two or three dozen times. As a kid, I thought he was the coolest guy alive. When COCKTAIL came out – I was seven – and my folks bought me the cassette soundtrack, which I rocked 24/7. I was so taken by the flair bar tending that I started mixing juice around the house, chucking plastic cups in the air and whatnot. Made a huge mess, but hey – I was seven. It was cute. RAIN MAN was another big cultural phenomenon at the time. I remember being on a school bus where everyone broke out singing the theme song, “Iko Iko”. As for THE COLOR OF MONEY, well – to this day – whenever I get on a good run playing pool I start humming “Werewolf of London”. Simply put, I thought he was the coolest . Still do actually. For a whole generation of moviegoers, he was like the cool older brother we all wanted.

In the nineties, I got more into the super-macho action stars of the day, but I always respected Cruise. A FEW GOOD MEN, JERRY MAGUIRE, THE FIRM, all of these were great movies. What's odd is how after he took two years off to do Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT, Cruise came back as a sort of he-man action star, something he had never been up to that point. I guess that's what got me back into his movies, but as I get older, I wish he'd go back to doing the occasional drama or romance as of his filmography, those are the movies that have the real staying power.

That said, deciding on what movies of his to highlight has been exceedingly difficult. There are tons of amazing movies left out of this article that demand consideration, and with only one or two exceptions, all of his films have been good to excellent.

His Best Performance

I'm going to cheat and choose two, with one being from the early part of his career, and the other more recent. The first is Oliver Stone's BORN OF THE FOURTH OF JULY. This was a ballsy movie for Cruise to take. In COLOR OF MONEY and RAIN MAN he played second fiddle to established leading men like Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman, but here Cruise does all the heavy-lifting, playing paralysed Vietnam vet Ron Kovic. He was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award for his work here, and the way he conveys Kovic's transition from gung-ho marine to physically tormented, and disillusioned vet is astonishing, standing as one of his great performances.

The other movie I'm highlighting is COLLATERAL. People scoffed at the idea of a pretty boy like Cruise playing a bad-guy in a Michael Mann movie, but once they caught of glimpse of him as the coldly efficient, gray-haired killer who torments Jamie Foxx's cabbie, they shut up quick. This was a real attempt by Cruise to subvert his image, and the film works beautifully. I wish Cruise would try another edgy role like this, as it's something he really excelled at.

His Most Overrated Film

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. Overall, I like this series of films, and it can't be denied that they've been money in the bank for Cruise, with the recent (excellent) GHOST PROTOCOL having cemented his comeback in a big way. That said, the series got off to a rocky start with Brian De Palma's original. They tried too hard to adopt the style of the TV show it was based on (in the next film, John Woo established the action-packed formula they seem to stick with nowadays) but the movie is very inconsistent, confusing, and often boring. The train-sequence, which was considered amazing back in '96, now looks hideously dated. The only part of the movie that really works is the vault break-in, but even this isn't as good as it's cracked up to be as it's partially lifted from a sixties caper-movie called TOPKAPI.

His Most Underrated Film

My choice for underrated has to be VANILLA SKY. In 2001, people seemed to be expecting another JERRY MAGUIRE, as this reunited Cruise with Cameron Crowe, but instead they got a gonzo psychological thriller-romance, that bests the Spanish film (OPEN YOUR EYES) that it's remaking. In Crowe's filmography, VANILLA SKY is a sharp contrast to anything else he's done, but he made it brilliant by crafting a kind of pop-culture dream world that's both familiar and unnerving, and Cruise has never been better than as the tormented, vain-millionaire that's gruesomely disfigured and then tries to buy himself a one-way ticket to dream-land. It's a masterpiece.

His Most Memorable Scene

I've always been partial to Martin Scorsese's THE COLOR OF MONEY, and it has one of my favorite pieces of acting by Cruise, as he demolishes a roomful of pool-hall hustlers with his crazy-skills as Warren Zevon's “Werewolf of London” blares on the soundtrack. It's the perfect example of Cruise's appeal at this time in his career, with him being a mega-charismatic hustler you couldn't help but root for, although later both his performances and persona would get more heartfelt..

His Top-Five Films

5. VANILLA SKY
4. MAGNOLIA
3. TOP GUN
2. COLLATERAL
1. BORN OF THE FOURTH OF JULY

Up Next

One thing that must be made clear is that Cruise rarely makes bad movies. Sure, some are better than others, but for the most part he's crazy consistent, and this week's EDGE OF TOMORROW seems to prove that point (look for my review Friday). Well into his fifties, Cruise seems eternally youthful, and hopefully he'll be making movies for decades to come.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: Look for more Tom Cruise stuff on JoBlo.com this week, including a ten-best video, a full-review of EDGE OF TOMORROW and more!
Source: JoBlo.com

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2:53AM on 06/03/2014

He can be my wing-man anytime!

I was born in 78 and Cruise has been a staple for me when it comes to true star power. Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Rain Man, The Color of Money were regulars in my house. With my favorite performance of his being Jerry Maguire. The man always delivers and I have even enjoyed his recent work in Oblivion/Jack Reacher/Knight and Day, and Edge of Tomorrow looks like another win. By-the-way MI is not overrated I think it still holds up well. His only miss for me is Far and Away. Would love to see him
I was born in 78 and Cruise has been a staple for me when it comes to true star power. Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Rain Man, The Color of Money were regulars in my house. With my favorite performance of his being Jerry Maguire. The man always delivers and I have even enjoyed his recent work in Oblivion/Jack Reacher/Knight and Day, and Edge of Tomorrow looks like another win. By-the-way MI is not overrated I think it still holds up well. His only miss for me is Far and Away. Would love to see him work with Tarantino or be cast in a Marvel film, I think he could pull of Dr. Strange.
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8:12PM on 06/02/2014
It's impossible not to like Tom Cruise. Not only is he talented, but you can always tell he's giving 110% to every role in every film he is in, and it shows on screen. I agree that Born on the Fourth of July is his best performance. And Last Samurai is one of my personal favorites from him. I can't believe no one has mentioned Minority Report, which I consider to be one of the best sci-fi movies of the 2000's and also a great performance from Cruise.
It's impossible not to like Tom Cruise. Not only is he talented, but you can always tell he's giving 110% to every role in every film he is in, and it shows on screen. I agree that Born on the Fourth of July is his best performance. And Last Samurai is one of my personal favorites from him. I can't believe no one has mentioned Minority Report, which I consider to be one of the best sci-fi movies of the 2000's and also a great performance from Cruise.
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8:10PM on 06/02/2014
I seriously feel like I wrote this article. I agree with you 100% here. I also mixed juices and flipped bottles in my house. Go Cruise!
I seriously feel like I wrote this article. I agree with you 100% here. I also mixed juices and flipped bottles in my house. Go Cruise!
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5:00PM on 06/02/2014
I've always been a fan of Tom Cruise. I try (and for the most part - succeed) to ignore all the media gossip and tabloid fodder that come along with celebrities and if you're able to do that, then I can't see how you wouldn't be a Tom Cruise fan. The Last Samurai is one of my all-time favorite movies and it's a great example of how committed he is to playing roles and everything that goes into them. Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Interview with a Vampire are some other
I've always been a fan of Tom Cruise. I try (and for the most part - succeed) to ignore all the media gossip and tabloid fodder that come along with celebrities and if you're able to do that, then I can't see how you wouldn't be a Tom Cruise fan. The Last Samurai is one of my all-time favorite movies and it's a great example of how committed he is to playing roles and everything that goes into them. Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Interview with a Vampire are some other examples. He has many underrated movies on his resume.
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9:58AM on 06/02/2014
Hey I was born in '81 as well :) lol I totally agree with everything in this article. I only saw Born on the 4th of July for the first time within the last couple of years and I was blown away by how good Cruise was in it. And the fact that you mentioned Vanilla Sky as his most underrated totally made my day. It's such an incredible film and it boggles my mind how even a lot of true movie fans don't like it.

Cruise is the biggest movie star on the planet, perhaps the last true one that
Hey I was born in '81 as well :) lol I totally agree with everything in this article. I only saw Born on the 4th of July for the first time within the last couple of years and I was blown away by how good Cruise was in it. And the fact that you mentioned Vanilla Sky as his most underrated totally made my day. It's such an incredible film and it boggles my mind how even a lot of true movie fans don't like it.

Cruise is the biggest movie star on the planet, perhaps the last true one that still has success. Hanks is always great but his films are not the box office bonanzas they once were. I'm not even that excited about Edge of Tomorrow but I'm seeing it because if it has Cruise it really can't be bad.
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8:38AM on 06/02/2014

Perfect quote

The cooler older brother we always wanted to be around is a perfect description I have to following his career. The man is talented and though you know what you're gonna get he always brings his A-game. Yes, he may be weird with the whole scientology thing, but he still seems like he would be surreal enough to sit down a have a drink with...really looking forward to seeing Edge of Tomorrow this weekend....
The cooler older brother we always wanted to be around is a perfect description I have to following his career. The man is talented and though you know what you're gonna get he always brings his A-game. Yes, he may be weird with the whole scientology thing, but he still seems like he would be surreal enough to sit down a have a drink with...really looking forward to seeing Edge of Tomorrow this weekend....
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7:39AM on 06/02/2014

eXTR TIDBIT

EDGE OF DARKNESS is a mel Gibson-flick, friend-o.
EDGE OF DARKNESS is a mel Gibson-flick, friend-o.
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+1
7:37AM on 06/02/2014

He's got to challenge himself more !!!

Tom is an outstanding actor even though he doesn't challenge himself much.... He's always after big-budget projects and that's OK, cuz at least they're quality movie, but it would've been even better if from time-to-time he would pick a smaller paycheck and commit to a more riskier role. His best performances come from such projects (Born on the 4th of July & Magnolia). Also I think that it would be good if he would switch sides in the future and play a bad guy, since I found his performances
Tom is an outstanding actor even though he doesn't challenge himself much.... He's always after big-budget projects and that's OK, cuz at least they're quality movie, but it would've been even better if from time-to-time he would pick a smaller paycheck and commit to a more riskier role. His best performances come from such projects (Born on the 4th of July & Magnolia). Also I think that it would be good if he would switch sides in the future and play a bad guy, since I found his performances in Collateral & Interview with the Vampire: the V. C. just excellent.
- Now see what's on his plate: M:I 5; Van Helsing; TG2; Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and what do they have in common: all of 'em have a potential pr. budget of more than $80 ml.
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6:44AM on 06/02/2014

You can't handle the truth

My favourite 'memorable scene' has to be the shout off between him and jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men - it's one of those with so much emotion and watching him go toe to toe with one of the best actors ever to have lived is why I love that film
My favourite 'memorable scene' has to be the shout off between him and jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men - it's one of those with so much emotion and watching him go toe to toe with one of the best actors ever to have lived is why I love that film
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6:23AM on 06/02/2014
Magnolia is his best performance (Collateral being my 2nd choice) but that is because those 2 movies are directed by directors known for forcing out great performances from Hollywood stars. David Fincher deserves a shout out for that as well.
As for Cruise I wish him nothing but the best and hope he can turn his career into a beautiful legacy as he ages and gets older. He's truly one of a kind who has done a lot for (American) film through out his career.
Magnolia is his best performance (Collateral being my 2nd choice) but that is because those 2 movies are directed by directors known for forcing out great performances from Hollywood stars. David Fincher deserves a shout out for that as well.
As for Cruise I wish him nothing but the best and hope he can turn his career into a beautiful legacy as he ages and gets older. He's truly one of a kind who has done a lot for (American) film through out his career.
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3:51PM on 06/02/2014
Completely agree. He is great is nearly everything. But he was phenomenal in Magnolia.
Completely agree. He is great is nearly everything. But he was phenomenal in Magnolia.
6:14AM on 06/02/2014
I think his best performance (on par with Born on the 4th) was in Interview with a Vampire. He played against type hardcore and fucking nailed it. His performance reminds me of Heath Ledger's Joker. I've never seen Cruise disappear so completely into a character since then. Even in Collateral he played a solid villain, but he was still Cruise as a bad guy. In Interview, Cruise was gone and Lestat was all I could see.
I think his best performance (on par with Born on the 4th) was in Interview with a Vampire. He played against type hardcore and fucking nailed it. His performance reminds me of Heath Ledger's Joker. I've never seen Cruise disappear so completely into a character since then. Even in Collateral he played a solid villain, but he was still Cruise as a bad guy. In Interview, Cruise was gone and Lestat was all I could see.
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+3
6:00AM on 06/02/2014
Always been a massive fan of Tom, echo what you said at the start of the article, I was born in '76 and I too have grown up with his movies, personally my favourite performance of his is Jerry Maguire, still watch it to this day, I too am hoping he goes back to taking risks because that is when he is at his best.
Always been a massive fan of Tom, echo what you said at the start of the article, I was born in '76 and I too have grown up with his movies, personally my favourite performance of his is Jerry Maguire, still watch it to this day, I too am hoping he goes back to taking risks because that is when he is at his best.
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9:14AM on 06/02/2014
Ditto there beezig, Bicentennial babies!
Ditto there beezig, Bicentennial babies!
5:13AM on 06/02/2014
"VANILLA SKY bests the Spanish film (OPEN YOUR EYES) that it's remaking."

Bollocks.
"VANILLA SKY bests the Spanish film (OPEN YOUR EYES) that it's remaking."

Bollocks.
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5:20AM on 06/02/2014
no, truth!!!
no, truth!!!
9:57AM on 06/03/2014
Nope, Crowe's remake isn't a patch on the original. Cruise is just one of its problems, as is Cameron Diaz.
Nope, Crowe's remake isn't a patch on the original. Cruise is just one of its problems, as is Cameron Diaz.
3:45AM on 06/02/2014
This article has pleased me do much! I was born in 1980 (close to the writer) so I'm wondering if it's an age thing - but to me Cruise is a legend. I think he gets a bad rep nowadays (mostly due to his personal life) and I think he's severely underrated.

I haven't seen EVERY film he's made, but close - and I always look forward to his films, they're always a big event for me, and Cruise always delivers.
This article has pleased me do much! I was born in 1980 (close to the writer) so I'm wondering if it's an age thing - but to me Cruise is a legend. I think he gets a bad rep nowadays (mostly due to his personal life) and I think he's severely underrated.

I haven't seen EVERY film he's made, but close - and I always look forward to his films, they're always a big event for me, and Cruise always delivers.
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3:06AM on 06/02/2014
The guy is the biggest movie star left in the business and even though he may be crazy in real life somewhat, he's still one of the greatest living actors alive. Cruise has delivered time and time again and shows no signs of slowing down which is fine with me. I will see anything the guy does and I for one can't wait to see how much better he gets when he gets even older.

I just hope he does some more villainous roles soon because one of my favorite performances of his was Vincent in
The guy is the biggest movie star left in the business and even though he may be crazy in real life somewhat, he's still one of the greatest living actors alive. Cruise has delivered time and time again and shows no signs of slowing down which is fine with me. I will see anything the guy does and I for one can't wait to see how much better he gets when he gets even older.

I just hope he does some more villainous roles soon because one of my favorite performances of his was Vincent in 'Collateral' and I would love for him to do some more edgier roles like that instead of just action hero all the time.
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+4
2:19AM on 06/02/2014

Also...

If Cruise ever goes up for Movie Jail, I'm burning that fucker down. Life time pardon for Tommy Boy. Life time.
If Cruise ever goes up for Movie Jail, I'm burning that fucker down. Life time pardon for Tommy Boy. Life time.
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+3
2:14AM on 06/02/2014

Right On

Perfect assessment of a cultural icon. Bravo, Bumbray.
Perfect assessment of a cultural icon. Bravo, Bumbray.
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2:13AM on 06/02/2014
Retaining longevity as a bankable A-list star for as long as Tom Cruise has is no mean feat. I don't get it when people say Tom Cruise only plays the same role over and over again; watch Magnolia, Born on the Fourth of July, Collateral and Tropic Thunder back to back. He actually is a versatile, talented actor, but he's also very adept at stunts and has an admirable physicality about him. It seems that he's always up for throwing himself into an action scene no matter how crazy it gets. I think
Retaining longevity as a bankable A-list star for as long as Tom Cruise has is no mean feat. I don't get it when people say Tom Cruise only plays the same role over and over again; watch Magnolia, Born on the Fourth of July, Collateral and Tropic Thunder back to back. He actually is a versatile, talented actor, but he's also very adept at stunts and has an admirable physicality about him. It seems that he's always up for throwing himself into an action scene no matter how crazy it gets. I think he should attempt more crazy comedies. Knight and Day and Rock of Ages were lackluster but I don't think it was largely his fault. In Rock of Ages, he gave it his all, but I think he was miscast as Stacee Jaxx. His singing was good, but it was really clean and polished; not enough rock star edge. He's got an ego, sure, but unlike, say, Steven Seagal, he has skills to back it up and has managed to remain somewhat relevant for well over 25 years. Edge of Tomorrow totally blew my mind. Was not expecting it to be as awesome as it was.
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2:08AM on 06/02/2014
True Hollywood icon.no one can match his charming screenpresence,even in the upcoming generation of actors.i like to watch him more in Sci-fi and Spy thrillers.MI:2 is my favourite among his films.Vanilla Sky is like Tom Cruise's Inception.would like to see him work with finest directors like Tarantino,Coens,David.O.Russell
True Hollywood icon.no one can match his charming screenpresence,even in the upcoming generation of actors.i like to watch him more in Sci-fi and Spy thrillers.MI:2 is my favourite among his films.Vanilla Sky is like Tom Cruise's Inception.would like to see him work with finest directors like Tarantino,Coens,David.O.Russell
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2:08AM on 06/02/2014
True Hollywood icon.no one can match his charming screenpresence,even in the upcoming generation of actors.i like to watch him more in Sci-fi and Spy thrillers.MI:2 is my favourite among his films.Vanilla Sky is like Tom Cruise's Inception.would like to see him work with finest directors like Tarantino,Coens,David.O.Russell
True Hollywood icon.no one can match his charming screenpresence,even in the upcoming generation of actors.i like to watch him more in Sci-fi and Spy thrillers.MI:2 is my favourite among his films.Vanilla Sky is like Tom Cruise's Inception.would like to see him work with finest directors like Tarantino,Coens,David.O.Russell
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2:08AM on 06/02/2014
True Hollywood icon.no one can match his charming screenpresence,even in the upcoming generation of actors.i like to watch him more in Sci-fi and Spy thrillers.MI:2 is my favourite among his films.Vanilla Sky is like Tom Cruise's Inception.would like to see him work with finest directors like Tarantino,Coens,David.O.Russell
True Hollywood icon.no one can match his charming screenpresence,even in the upcoming generation of actors.i like to watch him more in Sci-fi and Spy thrillers.MI:2 is my favourite among his films.Vanilla Sky is like Tom Cruise's Inception.would like to see him work with finest directors like Tarantino,Coens,David.O.Russell
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1:39AM on 06/02/2014

Mission Impossible 1

to me is still an awesome thriller and spy mystery that holds up to this day (EFFECTS INCLUDED) I had been watching the 4 movies recently and I was stunned at how awesome the effects were and still are and how much better the train sequence looked than THE WOLVERINE!!! I do agree that Vanilla Sky is a compeltely underrated gem, and its been a movie ive liked since it came out and felt like I had to keep my opinion to myself because snobby movie people would just agree with the reviews that it
to me is still an awesome thriller and spy mystery that holds up to this day (EFFECTS INCLUDED) I had been watching the 4 movies recently and I was stunned at how awesome the effects were and still are and how much better the train sequence looked than THE WOLVERINE!!! I do agree that Vanilla Sky is a compeltely underrated gem, and its been a movie ive liked since it came out and felt like I had to keep my opinion to myself because snobby movie people would just agree with the reviews that it was awful. Good to see people comign to their senses over 10 years later.
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1:42AM on 06/02/2014
I agree with Mission: Impossible 1. Special effects still hold up pretty good and none of the sequels come close to the CIA Vault Heist scene in M:I 1. I was literally holding my breath when Jean Reno dropped the knife.
I agree with Mission: Impossible 1. Special effects still hold up pretty good and none of the sequels come close to the CIA Vault Heist scene in M:I 1. I was literally holding my breath when Jean Reno dropped the knife.
2:08AM on 06/02/2014
agreed. altho haha i find it funny that they just didnt have a motion detector in that room...lol like the average 50$ one people have in their homes and were fully readily available back int he day
agreed. altho haha i find it funny that they just didnt have a motion detector in that room...lol like the average 50$ one people have in their homes and were fully readily available back int he day
1:36AM on 06/02/2014
Cruise is one of rare Hollywood's true icon. He can tackle any role. The only role that he took me by surprise is Les Goldman of Tropic Thunder. He was awesome in that movie. Other than that, my favorites of his movies are Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Mission: Impossible 1 and Magnolia.
Cruise is one of rare Hollywood's true icon. He can tackle any role. The only role that he took me by surprise is Les Goldman of Tropic Thunder. He was awesome in that movie. Other than that, my favorites of his movies are Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Mission: Impossible 1 and Magnolia.
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