To Celebrate Tom Cruise’s birthday, I figured I’d take a look back at my Top 5 favorite Tom Cruise films (which is probably not the list you’d expect…) as well as my pick for his worst outing. I decided to leave off Tropic Thunder, because he has such a small role, it’s hard to call it a “Tom Cruise” movie. And even though he was one of the best parts about Magnolia, it’s not one of my favorites. Also left off… a lot of his earlier work. I think he’s gotten better with time.
5) Minority Report
Tom Cruise brought a lot to what seemed like another “summer blockbuster”. A rather complicated plot involving a world where crime has essentially been eliminated due to the use of pre-cogs, beings that can predict the future and see crimes before they happen. Cruise is an officer in the pre-crime unit who usually arrests these pre-criminals, until he becomes the guy being accused of a future murder of a guy he’s never met. Not only is the story excellent, but Cruise is excellent in the part. He’s always been great as the good guy fighting for his life, and this film just highlights that fact. One of my favorite films that year.
4) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
I could write this list without addressing the Mission Impossible franchise at all, but that would be doing a disservice to all involved with the terrific 4th outing in the franchise. Cruise as Ethan Hunt has never been better, and in an odd turn for the franchise, it actually is the best film in the series. This is also a nod to Cruise playing Ethan Hunt, in general, his franchise character that has brought him millions of dollars. Sure, Jeremy Renner would be an excellent actor to hand off the MI franchise too, but it wouldn’t be the same without Cruise.
3) Jerry Maguire
Cruise was crazy good in Jerry Maguire. He used his charm, good looks, and fast talking to embrace the role of a sports agent making a big career change. With the expert direction of Cameron Crowe, Cruise’s Jerry Maguire became a banner role for him that is still quoted to this day. You complete me.
When an actor who typically plays good guys goes bad, it can be crazy good. Denzel Washington went with this formula for Training Day, and Cruise would follow it with Collateral. Aside from some “bad guy protagonists” like in Interview With The Vampire or Rock Of Ages, this is really his only chance to play the villain. And he’s scary good at it. It’s crazy to think that no one else (in the last 10 years since the movie came out) has tried to cast him against type again. He was supported by a fantastic performance from Jamie Foxx, which helps to elevate the film even further on my list.
1) A Few Good Men
Easily an American classic, and arguably the best written film Cruise has ever been a part of. Even though Nicholson steals the show, Cruise proved himself to be a very formidable actor (following already acclaimed turns in Rainman and Born on the Fourth of July). There’s a reason this is always playing on TV, and it has a lot to do with the fact that it is so rewatchable, quotable, and enduring.
And the worst film…
I had a little bit of struggle with this. Lions For Lambs was disappointing, and I’m one of the people who believed War of the Worlds was pretty terrible. But, there’s one film that I couldn’t finish.
Rock of Ages
Truth. I didn’t actually finish Rock of Ages. I thought it was that bad. I can’t think of a single redeemable thing to say about the film. I thought the acting was either phoned in and underacted, or absurdly overacted. Cruise, specifically, turns in his worst performance as Stacy Jaxx. At around the hour mark, I decided I’d rather stare at grass move in a light breeze than endure any more of this trash. And while I’m not a fan of the stage musical, I consider it to be much better than this.