The Best and Worst of Tom Cruise

Updated on December 10, 2016
Alec Zander profile image

Alec is a film critic with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his reviews and articles will help launch his career.

Tom Cruise has become a true master of the action genre, bringing death-defying stunts to many of his roles. But is he truly an unstoppable force, or does he have some stinker films too? Below, I have compiled a list of the top 5 best and top 5 worst of Tom Cruise's films. As always, I have also included a complete filmography with my ratings of each film.

Best #1: Born on the Fourth of July

Born on the Fourth of July is probably one of the best aftermath stories ever told. The film follows Ron Kovic, who is paralyzed in the Vietnam War. Soon after being released from the hospital, he became an Anti-War protester and a Pro-Human Rights activist.

The film is real, raw, and tears your heart into pieces. Seeing what Ron went through right in front of your eyes is a truly moving experience that everyone should be a part of. Perhaps we could learn from Ron and help make our world better.

I give the film a 4 out of 4.

Best #2: The Last Samurai

Nathan Algren, played by Tom Cruise, is a soldier who has been hardened to the core. He has no honor left and would just as soon kill you as look at you. But then something life-changing happened. Nathan went into battle with his unit and lost horribly. The enemy captured Nathan and took him back to their lands. Instead of being killed or ransomed, Nathan is shown the way of the samurai. Nathan's eyes and heart are opened, and he begins to truly understand just what true honor really is.

The film is cinematically and emotionally beautiful, causing the audience to really think about what the Ameican government stands for versus what our opposition stands for. It makes you think about who the bad guys really were, who they are now, and how changes can be made.

I give the film 4 out of 4.

Best #3: Minority Report

Minority Report is one intriguing film. It's set in the future when Precrime has been established. Precrime is a system run by three Precogs, or Precognitives. Each Precog by themselves can see a portion of the future but it's only when all three are brought together that the complete picture can be seen. They can predict crimes before they happen, allowing the police to stop it before it happens. But when Chief John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, is foretold to kill someone, he goes on the run to prove his innocence and find out just how the system was compromised.

The sci-fi effects and action are all spectacular, the storyline brilliant, and the direction masterful. This is one of Spielberg's finest and it should not be missed. I give it a 4 out of 4.

Best #4: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Only Tom Cruise could pull off the enormous, magnificent stunts that consistently one-up themselves throughout each of the Mission: Impossible films. In this one, Ethan Hunt, played by Cruise, has been set up for bombing the Kremlin and is on the run. The entire IMF has been disavowed, so if Ethan intends to find out who set them up, he has to use limited resources and rely on a small team of 4 including himself to get the job done.

Even though I love all the Mission: Impossible films, I found this one to be the best because the directing was far superior and the story was superb and well-paced. Ghost Protocol is also quite realistic in the sense that covert teams could very well be set up and blamed for something they didn't do, setting the stage for World War III.

I give the film a 4 out of 4.

Best #5: Top Gun

Here it is, the quintessential Tom Cruise film. Top Gun stars Cruise as Maverick, a risk-taking pilot in the Navy that gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to advance to Top Gun Naval Flying School, which teaches and trains the best of the best what to do and how to act in combat situations. Maverick meets Iceman, played by Val Kilmer, and the two become instant competitors for who will be known as the best.

The film has romance, drama, action, humor, and tragedy. It has a good sense of realism and it isn't afraid to show that anything can happen when you're being reckless in the battlefield.

I give the film 4 out of 4.

Even the great Tom Cruise isn't exempt to some real stinkers in his filmography. He's been in some incredible films and narrowing down the top 5 wasn't easy. Picking the 5 worst was just as difficult. There's a few on here that I still enjoy, but they're just not up to the Cruise-caliber. Here are my top 5 picks for Tom Cruise's worst films.

Worst #1: Losin' It

Losin' It was your typical teen raunchfest. Four friends hit the road and go to Tijuana while on spring break in order to lose their virginity. It's your basic American Pie type plot, only written and directed a whole lot worse. There was barely any humor and certainly no real resolution. I give the film a 1.5 out of 4.

Worst #2: Knight and Day

Knight and Day didn't have much promise from the start. It was a fun movie, but it just wasn't that great of a movie. It was cool seeing Tom and Cameron back together in a film again, but Knight and Day was horribly written, badly planned, and quite annoying. This could have been so much better, but the whole film felt like everyone was half-asleep and Cruise and Cameron were making up their own story as they went. I give it a 1.5 out of 4.

Worst #3: Lions for Lambs

Have you ever seen a film that tried hard, made some really incredible points, but just didn't hit its mark? That's what happened with Lions for Lambs. It attempted to state good points for and against the Iraq War, and for the most part it did that. The problem the film had was some less than stellar performances and the failure to pick a side one way or the other. It was undecided itself and ultimately didn't help anyone that was confused to make a decision. I give the film a total of 2 out of 4.

Worst #4: Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut has some beautiful cinematography but unfortunately it doesn't have much of a plot. It's stretched far too long for what it is and is quite repetitive. Some will find it erotic and some will find it stellar, but I find it to be an overlong mess that could have taken its two separate plot points and made two extraordinary films out of them. I give Eyes Wide Shut a total score of 2 out of 4.

Worst #5: Jack Reacher - Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back tried to be good but there was simply too much going on at one time to fit into a two hour time slot. Overall, it was a very enjoyable film but in the end it suffered greatly because of all the ground it attempted to cover. If a third film is made, let's hope it restores the brilliance that made the first film incredible.

I give the film a 2.5 out of 4.

Complete Filmography

  • TAPS - 4 out of 4
  • The Outsiders - 3.5 out of 4
  • Losin' It - 1.5 out of 4
  • Risky Business - 4 out of 4
  • All the Right Moves - 3.5 out of 4
  • Legend - 3 out of 4
  • Top Gun - 4 out of 4
  • The Color of Money - 3 out of 4
  • Cocktail - 2.5 out of 4
  • Rain Man - 4 out of 4
  • Born on the Fourth of July - 4 out of 4
  • Days of Thunder - 3 out of 4
  • Far and Away - 3 out of 4
  • A Few Good Men - 4 out of 4
  • The Firm - 3 out of 4
  • Interview with the Vampire - 4 out of 4
  • Mission: Impossible - 4 out of 4
  • Jerry Maguire - 3.5 out of 4
  • Eyes Wide Shut - 2 out of 4
  • Magnolia - 4 out of 4
  • Mission: Impossible II - 4 out of 4
  • Vanilla Sky - 3.5 out of 4
  • Minority Report - 4 out of 4
  • The Last Samurai - 4 out of 4
  • Collateral - 3.5 out of 4
  • War of the Worlds - 3 out of 4
  • Mission: Impossible III - 4 out of 4
  • Lions for Lambs - 2 out of 4
  • Tropic Thunder - 3.5 out of 4
  • Valkyrie - 4 out of 4
  • Knight and Day - 1.5 out of 4
  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - 4 out of 4
  • Rock of Ages - 3 out of 4
  • Jack Reacher - 4 out of 4
  • Oblivion - 4 out of 4
  • Edge of Tomorrow - 3.5 out of 4
  • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - 4 out of 4
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back - 2.5 out of 4

Which Tom Cruise film is your favorite?

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Tom Cruise is the guy everyone knows. Whether you agree with his personal life or not, you have to admit that he is an absolute superhero in the action genre. He has quite the range and has been all over Hollywood. I look forward to seeing what's next.

© 2016 Alec Zander


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    • Alec Zander profile image

      Alec Zander 13 months ago from Sylva, NC


      I'd have to agree with you. I've seen some pretty rotten ones that make Tom's worst look like Casablanca.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 13 months ago from Singapore

      I'd say that Tom's worst, is usually still far better than a lot of bad movies. I don't think I've ever watched anything by him that's unbearable.