Helen Murdoch on Tom Cruise and his continued success…
With the sixth instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise being released at the end of July, it got me thinking about the enigma of Tom Cruise and why regardless of how crazy he seems in real life, I always go and watch his films.
My love of Tom Cruise is a fairly recent development. I’d seen a few of his films here and there but after coming home after I night out I watched Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, I ended up buying the (at the time) quadrilogy and enjoying them immensely. Other than his recent flop The Mummy and a few others in his back catalogue, if Cruise is in your movie, you’re almost guaranteed a hit. But why? As much as he’s known to be a nice guy in interviews etc, Tom Cruise is weird. There’s the Scientology, the smile that never seems entirely genuine and just something about him that’s just off. Ultimately though he is a good actor and at times (mainly in his early career) he’s proven to be a tremendous actor.
So let’s look at why he is still so successful:
The Mission: Impossible franchise is essentially Tom Cruise dangling from a height, attaching himself to a plane as it takes off and doing a lot of running. Pushing himself to the limit is what Cruise has become known for. Whether this is an attempt to stay relevant at a time when if a film under performs slightly it’s deemed a flop or whether he just enjoys pushing the limits we’ll never know. What we do know is that each stunt adds to the anticipation of his movies. For Mission: Impossible – Fallout they’ve already released a short behind the scenes look at the halo jump and how difficult it was to achieve and how dangerous. When you go and see a Tom Cruise action film you know that you’re going to be wowed by what you see.
For every action film that he does, Cruise usually juxtaposes this against meatier material. Last year saw the release of The Mummy which was a dull by the numbers actioner, but we also saw the release of American Made, the biopic about drug smuggler Barry Seal. In his review, Mark Kermode said that The Mummy was Tom Cruise the movie done badly, American Made was Tom Cruise the movie done right and this rings true. It still had some stunts but ultimately American Made was a well-acted, directed and entertaining biopic with a lot of heart. The Mummy on the other hand was not. This balancing act ensured that Cruise bounced right back.
Cruise has done this again and again. In 2012 he played Jack Reacher and also appeared in Rock of Ages. He followed up the thriller Lion for Lambs with his turn as Len Grossman in Tropic Thunder. His Oscar nominated performance in Magnolia was followed by Mission: Impossible 2 and so on.
If you look at Cruise’s credits on IMDB, other than a couple of short breaks here and there, he has consistently released films. Not all of them are brilliant but he is one of the most consistent actors working in Hollywood today. His credit of films from 2002 to 2006 is nearly flawless, it starts with Minority Report then The Last Samurai, Collateral, War of the Worlds and ends with Mission Impossible 3. He seems to show no signs of slowing down with various films announced and in production.
As I mentioned, Tom Cruise is generally seen as a bit odd. I’m personally confused by Scientology as a religion but I’m no expert so who am I to judge. What has become clear since the infamous 2008 Oprah interview is that Cruise is now careful at discussing his faith and much about himself. The image of Cruise that we see now is of an actor pushing boundaries and making films that entertain people, rather than one surrounded by controversy. The questions over Scientology and the various rumours that circulate around him will always be there, but he seems to be trying his hardest to get us to focus on his material than his personal life.
To say that I’m excited for the Mission: Impossible movie is an understatement. Even if it’s not brilliant, I know that I’m going to go into the cinema and watch something fun with a good story and amazing action. That is what a Tom Cruise film usually guarantees you, and why he will continue to stay relevant as a movie star.
Helen Murdoch is a film-lover who writes about anything and everything. Follow her on Twitter.