Tom Jolliffe shows his appreciation for Tom Cruise on the actor’s 57th birthday…
Approaching 40 years in the industry. Tom Cruise has spent over 30 of those as a superstar. He’s been a box office behemoth. A star turn, a headliner and a poster boy for blockbuster pulling power.
He’s also been maligned and dismissed. He’s been mocked, often savagely and been subject to constant rumour and conjecture over everything from his actual height to his sexuality. As if either really matters, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of reality, what remains is an accomplished actor, capable of dramatic heft, comical brilliance, stoic heroism and just about anything else you could expect an actor to perform. You will never see Cruise approach a role half cocked. Very few actors imbue such a whole-hearted and determined work ethic. Has he quite achieved the level of respect dramatically as his talent would warrant? Perhaps not. It’s been a long time since he pulled a Magnolia or Born On The Fourth Of July out the bag.
One element that people often fail to respect in the art of acting, is the physicality required sometimes. This is more than a rapturous congratulatory swoon over his stunt work on film. It’s incredibly impressive and has become a calling card, but it’s just that level of commitment that Cruise gives to every role, particularly in the action/thriller genre. The man sweats. Some naysayers may say he’s actually doing a disservice to stunt men by doing so much himself which frankly is a ridiculous excuse. Some actors might claim they don’t do stunts for that very reason but that’s not really the truth of the matter. Fair enough if you don’t want to jump out of a plan at 40 thousand feet. Quite fucking understandable but grandiosely claiming you’re martyring your physical exertions to help the stunt community is pushing it a bit.
With the latest Mission: Impossible instalment due at the end of the month, Cruise and co have once again ably stepped out in front of their blockbuster competitors to promise the delivery of an old-fashioned, stunt filled, CG-light action master-class. Whilst Marvel continues ruling the roost with CGI heavy theatrics which give plenty of work for stuntmen, and CG artists alike, the M.I franchise continues to appear with regularity and assured quality. Five markedly different films which have all delivered memorable set pieces and have, probably the second film aside, been good films. Even the second film, despite the threadbare plotting and Woo-isms on crack is an enjoyable film. Now each new M.I. is sold as much on what death-defying standout stunt Cruise will perform, than anything else. Sure it could end up becoming little more than that, but given the growth from the third through to the fifth instalment, it’s fair to say that the series is more than a big stunt surrounded by guff. These films are nailing the action genre in delightfully old fashioned ways while remaining fresh and modern and they’re doing it with a greater success rate than James Bond.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout looks insane. If the plot holds weight and it doesn’t end up convoluted then the action will most certainly deliver. The level of insanity involved in Cruise’s continued stunt work, even as a man in his mid-50’s, is amazing. He puts everything into these roles. He shatters bones, but when the audience sees with such clarity just what he’s doing, it makes us really invest in the death-defying sequences. Above all of this though, certainly as far as Ethan Hunt is concerned, is the fact that Cruise makes his protagonists (we’ll forget The Mummy…) so endearing. You can’t help but root for Hunt, or Reacher, or Len Grossman (I jest).
So lets forget the Scientology thing, the couch jumping, the perpetual grinning (what is wrong with being positive and optimistic?). Lets have a moment to think back to all those memorable stunt sequences. All those great performances. Lets respect a man who never drops below 100%. Yes there may often be a feeling that a few of his characters become more ‘Tom Cruise’ than said character, but he does ‘Cruise’ so well. On the count of three (or I suppose to be in line with an M.I. film, I should count down) everyone jump on their nearest couch in celebration of Thomas Mapother IV…Three…Two…One…
SEE ALSO: Tom Cruise – Unstoppable