The best and worst of Tom Cruise
With Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi blockbuster, Oblivion, now available on Blu-ray, we thought it was high time to take a look back over his rather impressive body of work. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision‘s Verity Burns picks out some of his biggest hits and misses.
1 Top Gun (1986)
This could slot just as easily into Cruise’s worst films as it does his best. But in all its 80s glory, it’s hard to think there’ll be another film he’ll be more remembered for. An amazingly camp celebration of bromances and fighter jets, it’s packed full of power ballards, great flight sequences and memorable quotes. The shirtless beach volleyball scenes snared Cruise even more female fans in the process, too.
2 Rain Man (1988)
After playing the Rayban-toting all American heart-throb in most roles preceding 1988’s Rain Man, Cruise tried something a little different in this Oscar-winning classic, appearing as the callous, scheming brother of an autistic man, played by Dustin Hoffman. He comes good in the end though, and we love him all the more for it.
3 A Few Good Men (1992)
Rubbing shoulders with Jack Nicholson in this courtroom thriller, a 30-year-old Cruise showed he could hold his own against the Hollywood heavyweights. With an excellent script penned by the West Wing’s Aaron Sorkin, it sees Cruise take on the role of a Navy lawyer defending two Marines accused of murdering a colleague. Powerful stuff, particularly when the fireworks fly in an almighty confrontation between Cruise and Nicholson at the film’s conclusion.
4 Jerry Maguire (1996)
Packed full of the feel-good factor, Jerry Maguire sees Cruise playing the role of a successful sports agent, who loses it all when he decides to readdress the way he’s living his life. Left with just one rather volatile client – a football player, played by Cuba Gooding Jr – Maguire has to face harsh truths as he rebuilds both of their careers. It’s a great performance from all the cast, but Cruise shines. His performance earned him his second Oscar nomination, too.
5 Minority Report (2002)
With Spielberg at the helm of this 2002 futuristic action flick, Cruise plays the role of John Anderton, a policeman in a special unit that is able to arrest murderers before they commit the crime. We all remember the awesome floating display that Cruise used to pinpoint his criminals (which we’re still waiting for, techies), but that wasn’t all that was good about it. A plot that demands your attention, great performances all round and one of Cruise’s best action films to date.
1 Losin’ It (1983)
One of Cruise’s first films and arguably one of his worst, ‘sex comedy’ Losin’ It follows the story of three high school students, driving to Tijuana, Mexico, in the hope of losing their virginity to prostitutes. Trite, stereotypical and wholly unoriginal, its only saving grace is its fabulously 80s theme tune and a baby-faced Cruise before he became the Hollywood star we all know now.
2 Cocktail (1988)
Possibly on the same page as Top Gun when it comes to the pure level of nostalgic love for an arguably sub-par film, Cocktail just tips the scales into Cruise’s “worst” category for us. Built around the story of a rookie bartender who learns all the tricks of the trade to bag the girl and score his own bar, it’s packed full of 80s cheesiness, a predictable plot and rather questionable performances. Cringeworthy at best.
3 Mission Impossible 2 (2000)
The Mission Impossible franchise has seen a couple of decent action movies, but unfortunately, this is certainly not one of them. Directed by John Woo, it’s all about the over-the-top action sequences, which tie together a barely there plot and, at times, fairly laughable script. Too many explosions, not enough substance.
4 Vanilla Sky (2001)
If you’ve seen this film, we’d take a strong guess that your first word after the credits started to roll, was “Eh?” Directed by Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky tries so hard to be the slick sci-fi thriller that Cruise managed the following year with Minority Report, but falls far short with an incoherent, confusing plotline and poor performance from Cruise himself.
5 Lions for Lambs (2007)
Remember this one? No us neither, and probably for good reason. Despite the on-paper, brilliant co-star line-up of Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, Lions for Lambs – a rather self-indulgent, preachy take on the US occupation of Afghanistan – flopped big time. Cruise’s performance as a Republican Sentator running for president isn’t a terrible one, but taken as just one part of a what is a rather slow and bumbling whole, this is far from his finest work.
Verity Burns is multimedia editor of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine