The shiny, youthful, vulnerable, and sexiest-man-alive celebrity didn’t have me at hello. It took more than a panty dance to Bob Seger in the hallway to make me start liking Tom Cruise movies, but he finally wore me down. I don’t know if he matured or I did but after 19 years of ambivalence at best towards Cruise and his career, he finally won me over. In a big way. The late-career action hero can outdo anyone. No stunt is too big, too wet, too high, or too low and I love him for it.
Please, don’t call it a crush. I’m naturally attracted to hard working over-achievers who just get it.
There’s a scene in 2015’s Rogue Nation, the most recent installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, in which Tom Cruise dangles from the outside of a four-engine turboprop cargo plane as it speeds down a runway and takes off. Unlike Ghost Protocol (2011), he has no tricked-out magnetic gloves that allow him to stick to stuff.
The scene is captivating – some of it because he’s holding on with his bare hands. And some of it because, well, he’s dangling from a freaking plane high above the ground. Here is a vision of extreme effort being executed by the person who was paid to execute it. That’s why I watch every action/adventure film this 53 year old mini-badass is in. He was really hanging off the cargo plane. Scared shitless. His face tells the audience, “holy crap on a cracker, I’m outside the plane. This is petrifying.” He holds on for dear life. As the plane increases altitude and gains speed his feet give way and he swings wildly in the wind while we wait for Benji to open the damn door. Now that’s Risky Business, dude. Tom Cruise. Not a look-alike stunt double who gets filmed at all the right angles to trick the eye into thinking it was Cruise. It was Cruise.
Tom Cruise understands how to connect with the audience. “Hey, we’re not so different. Heights are frightening. Haboobs are a pain in the ass and it’s gonna hurt like hell when I slam my face into the side of the wall. Uff!” His scenes are so much more E-ticket because he’s the man. He hangs, holds his breath, jumps, climbs, and dangles for the audience. For me. This is something that Cruise and his team totally get. He’s just an average man looking to get shit done. Cruise is the anchor of reality in a sea of facades, fakes, and phonies. I love it when a man works so hard for my pleasure.
His last excursion as thrill-seeking spy Ethan Hunt saw him dangling vertiginously off the north face of Dubai’s 2,722 foot Khalifa tower.
Back for another explosion of extravagant stunts in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the veritable trouble magnet goes even further out on that stunt doubleless limb.
Comic-relief chum and tech-nerd-turned-field-agent Benji (Simon Pegg), offers fumbled and bumbled assistance from the sidelines as the opening stunt wobbles breathlessly on the edge of ludicrousness.
Hyperbolic? Yes, but it’s the dazzling limitless scenes like these (and Cruise’s hunky biceps) that engage the moviegoer.
The IMF team of Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) all give good acting and each get their moment to shine. Alec Baldwin (The Departed) is a nice add to the Mission Impossible franchise. He plays a suave, raven-haired CIA boss intent on closing down the IMF forever and ever. This flick is slick and it comes complete with impressive set pieces, wicked motorcycle chases, girl-on-boy knife fights, and flying cars.
Most of the time, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Edge of Tomorrow, and Jack Reacher) leaves the audience wondering as to whether femme fatale Ilsa Faust is helping or hindering Ethan, but it doesn’t matter.
Leaving the audience white-knuckled and dangling for two hours is what team Mission Impossible is good at. Mission: Accomplished.
So you think a film with fairies and unicorns is gay? Well, screw you. Legend (1985) is fabulous.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the film picked up an Academy Award nom for Best Makeup. Here’s a rundown of my favorite Cruise action adventures in sci-fi/fantasy since Legend:
Minority Report (2002)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
After more than 30 years in Hollywood, Tom Cruise is still top gun on the big screen (and sometimes in my dreams). He’s intense. He sweats. He runs his bubble butt from scene to scene. He is the ultimate action hero. I love him. Please don’t call it a crush.