In 1981, Tom Cruise made his first on-screen appearance shirtless, wearing a pair of cut-off shorts and bragging about starting shit on fire. Since then, he’s led an illustrious career, remaining one of Hollywood’s last bankable action stars (in 2012, he was the highest paid man in the business). Now in his 50s, the guy is still actually jumping from airplanes, running (oh, so much running), and leading one of the best action franchises of all time that’s not about superheroes. These are the best Tom Cruise roles of all time, ranked from worst to best.
Rock of Ages
Released the same year as Risky Business, Tom Cruise plays the hunk in this high school sex comedy that time forgot. Get it? They’re “losin’ it”—as in their virginity.
Lions for Lambs
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Far and Away
In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, Cruise is a drone repairman who’s also into American sports. When he finds a group of survivors (led by Morgan Freeman), he begins to question the nature of his entire reality. As always, Cruise holds down what is otherwise a pretty clunky plot.
Tom Cruise plays a German officer with an American accent who leads a group of German soldiers with British accents in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler during WWII. It’s based on an actual military plot that could have entered some intriguing territory, had it not settled for being average historical escapism.
Knight and Day
Mission: Impossible II
War of the Worlds
In this Steven Spielberg re-imagining of the H.G. Wells novel, Cruise plays a father attempting to keep his children safe throughout an alien invasion. Though it has all the highlights of a Spielbergian sci-fi, it wasn’t quite enough to cause riots like Orson Welles’s infamous radio broadcast.
The Last Samurai
Mission: Impossible III
Days of Thunder
All the Right Moves
The Color of Money
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
After decades as one of the great American action stars, the Mission: Impossible franchise might prove to be Cruise’s greatest legacy, providing consistently top-tier entertainment. In this fifth film in the franchise, Hunt must get the now-disbanded IMF back together to stop an international network of skilled terrorists.
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol
A Few Good Men
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
In the sixth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Tom Cruise risks life and limb—literally—for some of the most incredible action scenes of his entire career. He actually does the impossible: keeping this series not only fresh, but groundbreaking, as the IMF team fights to stop multiple nuclear attacks.
Eyes Wide Shut
Interview With the Vampire
Born on the Fourth of July
Edge of Tomorrow
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