For those who may not be of a certain vintage, it will be difficult to digest that Tom Cruise didn’t feature in an action film for the first 15 years of his career. And while Top Gun, his first box office blockbuster, was about a fighter pilot who learns the hard way to play by the rules, it didn’t see him as much as swat a fly or dropkick an opponent in it.
But then, his first quintessential action film, which he also produced, Mission Impossible, went on to become one of the most successful action franchises of all time. And now that it’s been 25 years since Ethan Hunt (Cruise’s celebrated agent in the Mission Impossible series) first wreaked havoc on the big screen, let’s revisit the actor’s most memorable films.
Right from the get go, Cruise carefully prepped for the long-run and his film choices reflected that he wasn’t going for hurried stardom. That Risky Business (1983), his first solo hit, happened to him when he was only 21, meant that his career could’ve gone either way. But he took it slow and easy. In fact, when he became an overnight sensation after Top Gun (1986), he refused to do a sequel even though he was reportedly offered a princely sum for it. He chose instead to nurture his craft by playing second fiddle in films such as Color of Money (1986) and Rainman (1988) — both films won best actor awards (Paul Neuman; Dustin Hoffman) at the Oscars. Over the years, Cruise has moulded himself into a definitive actor who has embraced every genre with the same conviction. From that rookie stockbroker who’s guided down the rabbit hole in the The Firm to his controversial and critically-acclaimed turn in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, almost every entry in his filmography seems like a medal.
Here are a few of his best films that make for essential watching:
Top Gun not only made Cruise an overnight star, it also elevated him to that boy every girl wanted to take home to meet the parents. In the film, he plays the gifted and headstrong aviator Maverick Mitchell who repels rules. But once he’s selected in an elite school for fighter pilots, let’s just say, his attitude of flying solo wasn’t going to fly for long. Things begin to look dim particularly after a training accident forces Maverick to re-evaluate his approach and attitude. Surely, a watch for those with an appetite for speed. It is, after all, a tribute to all things fast – bikes and fighter jets.
As the charismatic sports agent who routinely resigns to malarkey to talk his way out of any situation, Cruise’s interpretation of this eponymous lead won him an Oscar nomination. The film follows the life of a hotshot sports agent who cracks multi-million dollar deals for his clients and essentially, has it all. But then, he experiences a moral epiphany-of-sorts and chooses to give it all up in his pursuit for a higher purpose, succumbing equally to guilt and self-loathing. The film also stars Renee Zellweger who plays the coworker that Maguire leans on and Cuba Gooding Jr. who bagged the Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for his turn as Maguire’s only client who stands by him while he deals with his doubts and misgivings.
Cruise can be billed for his commendable contribution to espionage thrillers just for this franchise alone. In his Ethan Hunt, an invincible secret agent with an elite outfit, he encompasses a hero who doesn’t consider any mission inconceivable. Packed with death defying stunts and chase sequences featuring a chopper, train and a tunnel, it’s the kind of edge-of-the-seat entertainment that will keep you consistently excited and worried about the turn of events to follow. Want to plan an action-packed weekend? We recommend you binge-watch the five movies from the Mission Impossible franchise available on Amazon Prime Video.
It’s always fascinating to watch movies from the past depicting the future. This sci-fi thriller from 2002 envisions a future where the police department is equipped with the technology to track and possibly apprehend perpetrators of a crime even before they commit them. This also happens to be the first time Cruise collaborated with auteur Steven Spielberg. Almost two decades since its release, this thriller is not just relevant but also makes for a compelling watch even today. Spielberg’s futuristic take on crime and punishment may not seem entirely plausible to all but the treatment and special effects surely make this journey worth sitting through.
A contract killer and a cabbie are unlikely bedfellow tossed together in a night of unpredictable events in this taut thriller. In this film, Cruise plays a stone-cold assassin with an almost clinical approach to his work. This film also got Jamie Foxx an Oscar nomination for his commendable role as the unassuming cabbie who’s drawn into his passenger’s murky world. This one’s for those who appreciate glass-shattering action over de-noir classics.
Recommendations in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video.