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The Best and Worst of Tom Cruise

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.

Tom Cruise might actually be the number one actor when it comes to the action genre. But are his films always great? Let's decide with this list.

Tom Cruise might actually be the number one actor when it comes to the action genre. But are his films always great? Let's decide with this list.

Tom Cruise: Master of Action

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.

Born on the Fourth of July, 1989

Born on the Fourth of July, 1989

Best #1: Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

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.

The Last Samurai, 2003

The Last Samurai, 2003

Best #2: The Last Samurai (2003)

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.

Minority Report, 2002

Minority Report, 2002

Best #3: Minority Report (2002)

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.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, 2011

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Best #4: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

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.

Top Gun: Maverick, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick, 2022

Best #5: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

For decades, Hollywood has suffered from an epidemic of horrible sequels, movies that didn't capture the magic of the original or just swayed from the lore too much, or whatever the case may be.

It wasn't until the superhero genre came along that that started to change. X-Men United and Spider-Man 2 being the first true examples of sequels surpassing the original. The Two Towers and The Return of the King expanded that scope to the fantasy genre. Then, Tom Cruise came along with Mission: Impossible 3 and proved action movies could do the same.

Now we come to Top Gun: Maverick, a film that has released 36 years after its predecessor. It seems that the trend continues with this film. Top Gun: Maverick has every ounce of spirit that the original had and more, with outstanding effects and aerial choreography that I cannot fathom how in the world the crew was able to capture on film.

Tom Cruise returns as Pete Mitchell, the captain that the Air Force just can't seem to get rid of, as he is assigned to return to Top Gun to teach the best of the best in order to prepare them for an impossible mission.

Complicating matters is an unexpected addition to the already impressive roster of pilots. Bradley Bradshaw, brilliantly played by Miles Teller, is a painful reminder of Maverick's past. Teaching him and working alongside him just adds fuel to the already growing fire.

Joseph Kosinski brilliantly and expertly directed this film. His and Tom Cruise's visionary approach to the aerial choreography and stunts is something of a modern-age miracle. The camerawork was flawless and the cinematography was outstanding. It was so immersive of a film that it almost felt like you were in the cockpit with them. Now there's a 4D idea I'd love to experience!

Tom Cruise and Miles Teller had awesome chemistry together. I loved the storyline between the two and how the writers were able to weave in flashbacks from the original film. Again, praise has to go to Joseph Kosinski for being able to direct so brilliantly, showcasing some of the original film's most heartfelt and devastating moments in order to tell this film's story.

In conclusion, all I can say without spoiling plot points is that this is a remarkable, perfect film and everyone should see it. If you're a vet, know a vet, loved the original, love Tom Cruise, or just love planes, go see it. I give this film a 4 out of 4.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

The Worst

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.

The Mummy, 2017

The Mummy, 2017

Worst #1: The Mummy (2017)

The 2017 The Mummy kicks off Universal Studios' Dark Universe with a snooze. I'd like to say that it's a remarkable piece of work and brought the horror back to the monster film genre but sadly it didn't. Don't get me wrong, there were some positives to the film but overall it was a mess - and that's coming from a loyal Cruise-ite.

The film begins with the story of Ahmanet, who she was and how she came to be mummified. She lusted for power and made a deal with Set, the Egyptian god of war (not to be confused with Ares who is the GREEK god of war). Set gave her power and in exchange, she was to give him a body for him to inhabit. What began her lust for power? Well, see she was supposed to be the next in line for the throne but a baby brother came along. Because he was a boy, he would get the throne instead of her. Sounds rather petty doesn't it?

In the previous Mummy films, there was always a love interest somewhere that sacrifices were made for. You could sympathize with the monster no matter how terrible or horrifying their actions were. In this one, however, Ahmanet was just a monster.

The film then introduced us to Tom Cruise's character Nick. Nick is a military man that tends to divert from his missions and hunt for valuable artifacts, steal them, and sell them on the black market. Kind of an insult to the military and treasure hunters everywhere. He and his friend Kale stumble upon the burial site of Princess Ahmanet and that's when everything goes wrong....for them I mean. Jenny, who Nick had slept with earlier, catches up to them and helps extract the sarcophagus so she can have Dr. Jekyll study it.

I'll avoid revealing any more about the film since that would be crossing spoiler territory, but I will say that the film is very rushed and at the same time tries to cram in too much. The film is called The Mummy but it honestly should have been called The Curse of Set. You hardly see Ahmanet and when you do it's underwhelming. Everyone in the film has a selfish agenda. You can't sympathize with anyone and you honestly just watch for the action because that is the most spectacular part of the film.

In conclusion, I wanted The Mummy to be good. I really did. I have been a lifelong loyal fan of Tom Cruise and I have loved what I have seen of Sofia Boutella. Russell Crowe has also been one of my all-time favorite actors but sadly all three were disgraced. There was so much hidden potential in this film but even that was drowned out by an overabundance of information intended to start up the Dark Universe. Maybe the next film will actually focus on the monster rather than put him/her in the background for most of the film. I give The Mummy a 1.5 out of 4.

Losin' It, 1983

Losin' It, 1983

Worst #2: Losin' It (1983)

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.

Knight and Day, 2010

Knight and Day, 2010

Worst #3: Knight and Day (2010)

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.

Lions for Lambs, 2007

Lions for Lambs, 2007

Worst #4: Lions for Lambs (2007)

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.

Eyes Wide Shut, 1999

Eyes Wide Shut, 1999

Worst #5: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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.

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
  • The Mummy - 1.5 out of 4
  • American Made - 3 out of 4
  • Mission: Impossible - Fallout - 3.5 out of 4
  • Top Gun: Maverick - 4 out of 4
Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Conclusion

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 Nathan Jasper

Comments

Jenna Jo on August 27, 2020:

Knight + Day: my crowd counts this Cruise film as one of our faves--top 3. The character Cruise plays, Roy Miller, is exactly the kind of guy I'd hope my 9yr old daughter will find 1 day: brave, loyal, highly skilled + trained, charming, sensitive to June--and funny, too. It's a blessing to have a modern-day hero character to point her to as what she should be looking for in a future mate. Plus, it was just plain wholesome fun! We don't get the negative reviews. Cheers to the great Tom Cruise for giving my family this jewel of as film

Nathan Jasper (author) from Sylva, NC on December 09, 2016:

CYong74,

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

Ced Yong from Asia on December 09, 2016:

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.

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