With the release this week of the new Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow we’ll take a retrospective look at what I consider the top ten films of one of Hollywood’s longest reigning leading men…Tom Cruise. There’s a lot to choose from when dealing with a guy with a huge filmography such as his. Dramas, comedies, and most importantly action flicks. Before anyone asks we’re not counting cameos or bit parts (sorry Tropic Thunder). So without any more small talk let’s get to it!
10. Top Gun (1986): Cruise plays Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a great pilot, but when he gets to Miramir Naval Air Station he starts to notice he isn’t the only great pilot. Now he’s going head to head with Tom “Iceman” Kasanzky for the title of Top Gun. Cruise takes this homo-erotic 80’s cheeser and lot’s it full of his brand of charisma and charm. And what we’re left with is a breathless thrill ride straight into the “Danger Zone”
9. Mission Impossible (1996): In Cruise’s first turn as Ethan Hunt he’s wrongly accused and has to go to great, and as you can see above strenuous circumstances. This iconic scene is just one of the many great set pieces in one of Brian De Palma’s last good films. Based around a late 1960’s television show this 90’s actioneer is equal parts intelligent film-making and over the top action. Cruise makes Hunt both a kickass and interesting protagonist.
8. Risky Business (1983): As suburban Chicago teen Joel Goodsen Cruise does what any other good teenager would do when his parents go on holiday. Party! After destroying his fathers expensive Porsche Goodsen gets caught up in some things that are far above his head. Cruise does a great job of making Joel naive, and yet charismatic. And let’s not even forget that memorable scene in the living room, something that’s outlived the film itself.
7. Jerry Maguire (1996): Sports agent Jerry Maguire shows us the money in this film about a guy that had it all, and lost it. Cuba Gooding Jr. gives probably his ONLY great performance as Rod Tidwell. Cruise’s subtle hand as a sports agent going through an existential crisis is great, and if not for Cuba’s scene devouring performance perhaps this would be higher. He had us at hello, but by the end he lost us.
6. Minority Report (2002): Helmed by arguably the greatest contemporary film director Steven Speilberg, and based of off a Philip K. Dick short story with pedigree like this I could’ve slept through this film and it would’ve been decent, and while Cruise once again gets one upped by a supporting player (this time Colin Farrell’s Danny Witwer). Having an awesome storyline involving being accused of a murder you haven’t committed yet certainly can’t hurt.
5. Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2011): After some not as good (MI3) and straight garbage (MI2) sequels to the film at number 9. What makes this adventure of Ethan Hunt is that his supporting crew is awesome! But this time instead of letting the background players carry the film Tom Cruise owns the crap out of this one! It has a plot in which the IMF is believed to have caused an international terrorist event. Now Hunt and his band of merry folks must clear IMF’s name.
4. A Few Good Men (1992): One of the all-time best court room thrillers this film isn’t held together by Cruise in any way, but it is the intensity in his performance that draws life into Lt. Daniel Kaffee. Along with that we get a stellar show from the fantastic Jack Nicholson, and the steady hand of Kevin Bacon. Once again Cruise gives us an iconic scene in his questioning of Jack Nicholson, and his ability to handle the truth of the fact that he murdered one of his colleagues.
3. Born on the Fourth of July (1989): In this biopic of paralyzed Vietnam War vet Ron Kovic. It’s a glaring look into the struggles faced by those boys coming home both from a society that scorned them and the experiences that have left them debilitated whether it’s physically as we see, or mentally which we experience throughout. Cruise plays him vulnerable but with an anger kept just below the dermis. You’re waiting the whole time for that trigger to hit and the PTSD to take over.
2. Collateral (2004): Poor Jamie Foxx should totally not play characters named Max as he did in The Amazing Spiderman 2 and in this 2004 Michael Mann feature. In this Foxx’s Max picks up a fare and it’s Cruise’s Vincent. Little does Max know Vincent has sinister intentions. As thee story unfolds we feel for Max, and that comes from Cruises cathartic performace as Vincent, he leaves us cold and thats exactly what the character should do. You mix that with Mann’s last truly great job of direction. It’s urban sprawl-like visual are a result of DP Dion Beebe, who would later bring that visul to the less brilliane Miami Vice.
1. Magnolia (1999): In one of the most nuanced and terrific performances Cruise plays Frank “T.J.” Murkey a guru of sorts leading a seminar for his program “Seduce and Destroy” which as chauvinistic as it sounds is pretty much exactly what you’d think. It can give men all the tools they need to use woman for sex. All his segments in which in his strictly him and a spotlight it’s amazing. He controls the screen, and oozes charisma as if he was meant to be this guy, and in the context of this film Paul Thomas Anderson makes the most out of the huge (and stellar) cast, and Cruise is a standout among it!
Let it be known I’ve never been a huge fan of Cruise on a personal level, however there can be no denying that his filmography is filled with great movies, and great performances. What do you guys think? What is the greatest film in this guy filmography.