2016年5月11日 星期三

The Movies of Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise would probably rather you forget how old he is.  Yet when you think about it, the guy's been around forever.  Seriously, even the "older" movie stars like Liam Neeson and Hugh Jackman were just starting out when Tom Cruise was already an established name.  His first movie, Endless Love, hit theaters way back in 1981.

Between 1981 and now, everyone's favorite Scientologist has starred in over 30 films, and that's not counting other films in which he acted as producer or narrator.  If I were to count those other films, the total would surpass 40.

He is, by the way, 53 at the time of writing.  The rest of us can only hope we look that good at 53.



1980s

Endless Love

God this movie is bad.  Not only that, but it's really icky.  Some of the oedipal stuff going on this film might have made for great drama given an entirely different screenplay, but as it is it's a mess.  Tom Cruise is in it for about five seconds.

Taps

His career really began with this movie.  He's not the star, but he plays one of the older cadets.  It's still a good movie, and it has held up well over time.

The Outsiders

This is one of those movies that's fun to rewatch with an eye to its stars' future career paths.  Hey, is that Matt Dillon?  Is that Ralph Macchio?  Is that Tom Cruise?  Yes, it's Tom Cruise, and no, he's not in this movie for very long.

Losin' It

Typical 80s teen sex comedy, inexplicably set in the 50s.  Cruise's first starring role, and not that awful as these kind of movies go.  Even so, I wouldn't bother with it if I were you.

Risky Business

The movie that made Tom Cruise (and Rebecca De Mornay) famous.  If you're wondering what happened to Rebecca De Mornay, just check out the Netflix Jessica Jones series - she plays Trish's mom.  This movie, like Losin' It, was one of those teen sex comedies that HBO played endlessly in the 80s.

All the Right Moves

Hey, isn't that Chris Penn?  And look, Leah Thompson!  I defy you not to get this movies (bad) soundtrack stuck in your head.  A football player tries to escape small town Pennsylvania.  Fairly forgettable.

Legend

I loved this movie when it came out (I was 10), but like many other movies on this list it hasn't aged that well.  I recently tried to sit through the Director's Cut, and found myself unable to do so.  Mia Sara was used much better in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Top Gun

God this movie is gay.  Just go back and (re)watch it, and count the closeups of Tom Cruise's ass.  That volleyball scene alone has got to be one of the most homoerotic things put into a mainstream Hollywood film.  It's terrible.  Just terrible.  And not because it's gay.

The Color of Money

Paul Newman reprises his role from The Hustler, and Cruise plays an aspiring pool shark.  It's definitely a good movie, but I always thought it left something to be desired.  Maybe it's the fact that the characters aren't very likable?

Cocktail

One of the most unintentionally hilarious movies ever made.  Tom Cruise plays a bartender, and the tragically underrated Elisabeth Shue plays his love interest.  So bad it's actually pretty good.

Rain Man

I consider this the first really good, really entertaining film starring Tom Cruise.  He manages to hold his own against Dustin Hoffman, and it won a lot of Oscars.  Worth seeing if you haven't seen it already.

Born on the Fourth of July

Kind of a sequel to Platoon (forming a trilogy with the not-very-good Heaven and Earth), and directed by Oliver Stone during the high point of that director's career.  I think it has aged better than Platoon, a film which suffers in comparison to other films like The Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket, and even Hamburger Hill. 


1990s

Days of Thunder

Pretty bad.  Tom Cruise (inevitably) plays a race car driver.  This is the first movie in which he and his wife-to-be Nicole Kidman starred together.  Cruise had been around for a while, and Kidman was a rising star from Australia.  Tony Scott's directorial style was never quite up to the level of his brother Ridley.

A Few Good Men

Still a great movie.  I saw this again not long ago.  Cruise plays a lawyer involved in a military trial.  Demi Moore is probably the best thing about it, but Cruise does well in his role and is likable throughout.  Also one of Jack Nicholson's best films.

Far and Away

Cruise and Kidman again.  This one was directed by Ron Howard, and follows a pair of Irish immigrants on their journey through the wilds of frontier America.  It's not all that good, but it's a vast improvement over Days of Thunder.

The Firm

A lawyer uncovers a conspiracy.  This movie is... alright, but not worth seeking out.  Author John Grisham, who wrote the book, was the Dan Brown of the early 90s, and in many ways this movie resembles The Da Vinci Code (minus the religion, of course).

Interview with the Vampire

Cruise surprised a lot of people with this one.  In it he plays the vampire Lestat, the "hero" of Anne Rice's novels.  Brad Pitt costars, himself on the way to superstardom at the time.  It's a good movie, and compares favorably to the book.

Mission: Impossible

It seemed like a lower-rent James Bond film at the time, and it doesn't look any better now.  It took them a while to find out what worked and didn't work in this franchise, and Jason Bourne wasn't helping matters any.  It's not bad, but not great.

Jerry Maguire

"Show me the money!"  Yes, this is that movie.  Tom Cruise plays a sports agent who decides to act in his clients' best interests.  I have never understood the adulation this movie gets.  I tried to watch it again, just to make sure I was giving it a fair shake, and I still don't get it.  Cameron Crowe, who directed Cruise in Jerry Maguire, would do so again in Vanilla Sky.

Eyes Wide Shut

Now HERE is the one Tom Cruise film everybody ought to see!  It is, in my opinion, a masterpiece, though by no means is it a good date film.  Leave your significant other elsewhere, and delve deeply into this tale of (possible) infidelity and suspicion.  Kubrick saw something Cruise that no one else has.

Magnolia

Yeah, that sing-a-long bit at the end is weird and almost ruins the whole movie, but anyone complaining about Cruise's acting skills ought to see Magnolia.  He plays a motivational speaker in southern California, and his performance in this film is undoubtedly one of the best - if not the best - of his career. 


2000s

Mission: Impossible II

This movie was a huge disappointment.  I remember being a huge fan of John Woo at the time, and I was expecting this movie to kick ass.  What we got instead was the worst film in the franchise, and one of the worst movies of Tom Cruise's career.

Vanilla Sky

This movie marks the beginning of Cruise's descent into science fiction (aside from Scientology, I mean :P).  It also marks his second pairing with Cameron Crowe.  I liked it a lot more than Jerry Maguire, but this movie always seemed a little hollow to me.

Minority Report

More sci-fi, but this time with Stephen Spielberg.  Also one of the best adaptations of a Philip K. Dick story.  Great movie.

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Cruise is in this for about a second.  It's terrible.

The Last Samurai

Good period film about an American living in Japan.  I think one of the strengths of this movie was that men and women could like it equally.

Collateral

Cruise finally teams up with Michael Mann.  It's a good movie, but I never understood all the praise it received.  I kind of want to watch it again.

War of the Worlds

Quite possibly my favorite Tom Cruise movie AND my favorite Spielberg movie.  I've seen it more times than I can remember.  Martians (or at least aliens) invade the Earth.  You've read the book, right?

Mission: Impossible III

Better, but still not there yet.  All I can remember about this movie is that Maggie Q is FINE.  I know I've seen it, but the rest of it has escaped my memory.

Lions for Lambs

Blah blah blah, cut to marines stranded in Afghanistan, blah blah blah, repeat.  Few things are worse than movies that try especially hard to be meaningful, but just aren't.  By the end you'll be wondering why the senator (Cruise) wasted so much time talking to the reporter (Streep), and why the professor (Redford) wasted so much time talking to his student (Garfield).  I have no idea why Cruise's character didn't just hold a press conference, or what Redford's character was trying to convince his student of.  And hey, why didn't those two marines have radios?  Or satellite phones?  Or cell phones?  Or any other way of contacting their commanding officer?

Tropic Thunder

Tom Cruise was in this?  I really don't remember that at all.  I doubt Wikipedia is lying, so I'll just take their word for it.  I never understood why people like this movie so much, though Robert Downey Jr. is good.

Valkyrie

Tom Cruise as a Nazi colonel?  With his American accent?  He gives it the old college try, but just about every scene he's in pulls you right out of the movie.  Hearing him scream "Long live sacred Germany!" is hard on the ears.  In fairness to Cruise, George Clooney, Matt Damon, or any other recognizable American actor would have been equally ridiculous in the role. 


2010s 

Knight and Day

Well-written, well directed action movie that was overlooked at the time.  Cameron Diaz makes this movie.  I really enjoyed it.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

As far as I'm concerned, this is the first good movie in that franchise.  I still consider Ethan Hunt a far cry from either Jason Bourne or James Bond, but it's a solid film.

Rock of Ages

Tom Cruise as an aging 80s rock star?  First time I heard this I was like "Whaaaat?"  But in retrospect it makes a lot of sense.  I'm not into musicals, but I have to admit that he was great in this one.

Jack Reacher

By-the-numbers action movie.  Casting Werner Herzog as the villain was an interesting choice, but this entire movie seems like a foregone conclusion from the moment the suspect writes "Find Jack Reacher."  Someone must have liked it, because a sequel's on the way.

Oblivion

I don't get all the hate this movie receives.  Cruise battles aliens on a post-apocalyptic Earth.  It's not as action-oriented as Edge of Tomorrow, but it's still an excellent science fiction film.

Edge of Tomorrow

One of Cruise's more recent breakthroughs.  This movie was something of a sleeper when it first came out, but its fan base has expanded dramatically.  Kind of a sci-fi version of Groundhog Day.  One of the best action movies to come out in 2014.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Tom Cruise probably wishes he wasn't in this documentary, but it includes a lot of footage of him partying with the other Scientologists.  And how could it not?  At this point Cruise is the most famous Scientologist on the planet, and the "church's" practice of grooming celebrities is largely predicated upon their association with him.  I highly recommend it (the documentary that is, not Scientology).

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

I was all set to dismiss this one, but in the end it won me over.  That scene where Cruise somehow holds his breath for EONS is ridiculous, but it's a good movie and definitely the best in the franchise.

On the Way

Jack Reacher - Never Go Back (2016)

Actually, I sort of wish Jack Reacher would go back.  That first movie was fairly derivative.

Mena (2017)

This one sounds like it might be good.  Cruise plays a pilot working for the DEA.  Every few years he does a good dramatic film, and this sounds like it could be interesting.

The Mummy (2017)

Part horror film, part attempt to copy Marvel's success with its interconnected cinematic universe.  It could also be considered both a sequel to the forgettable Dracula Untold and a reboot of Brendan Fraser's Mummy franchise.  Russell Crowe will be playing Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and I can only assume that the guy from Dracula Untold will be returning.  I'll be happy if it's good, but my hopes aren't high. 

Fun Facts About Tom Cruise 

He has been nominated for three Academy Awards, but he's never won the Oscar.

He was 19 when he appeared in his first movie, the above-mentioned Endless Love.

He claims that Scientology cured his dyslexia.

He's been married and divorced three times.  His first ex-wife was Mimi Rogers, who introduced Cruise to Scientology.

October 10 is "Tom Cruise Day" in Japan!

Allegations of homosexuality have haunted Cruise throughout his career.  He's gone to court several times over supposed "evidence" of his preference for men.

Tom Cruise's Five Best Films

1. War of the Worlds
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. Rain Man
5. A Few Good Men

And with that, I'll close the book on Tom Cruise.  Next time maybe... Tom Hanks?  Nicole Kidman?  Sylvester Stallone?  Someone else?

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