Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One — out Wednesday in theatres — sees Tom Cruise returning to his most iconic role, that of the highly-skilled IMF agent Ethan Hunt, as he prepares for yet another globe-trotting mission to save the world. In a career spanning over 40 years, there hasn't been a dearth of vehicles or buildings this man hasn't clung onto for life — honing his persona from that of a charming action star alongside displays of nuanced characters, to finally emerging as a revered hero in the blockbuster Hollywood space. The fearless stuntman has always been an advocate for the silver screen, leading Top Gun: Maverick to theatrical success in 2022 with a $1.496 billion (about Rs. 12,325 crore) collection.
This time, he's pushing the boundaries for his billion-dollar Mission: Impossible franchise by riding a motorcycle over a cliff, which is just a small taste of the practical action sequences present in the film. As we all await its global release, we thought now would be the perfect time to revisit some of Cruise's best films.
A Guide to Watching Mission: Impossible Movies in Chronological Order – Where to Stream Online in India
The Best Tom Cruise movies (according to us)
If you thought Tom Cruise's portrayal of the overly greasy and badmouthed Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder is the wackiest he's ever been, then I'm betting you've never seen Magnolia. Given its three-hour-long time commitment, I wouldn't necessarily blame you for avoiding it, but I personally find it to be Paul Thomas Anderson's most detailed and chaotic work, presented as an intertwining mosaic of characters in the San Fernando Valley, in pursuit of happiness and forgiveness. The standout among its ensemble cast has to be Cruise's character Frank T.J. Mackey, a highly misogynistic air-humping, inappropriate self-help sex guru, who's revered as a god amongst needy men who've failed in their interpersonal relationships.
You'd think you're about to have a hilarious time when Cruise flicks his gelled-up hair, points to his crotch, and yells “Respect the cock!” at a crowded seminar as a means to score women, but beneath that ‘alpha male' shell is a tortured soul, which we gradually see crumbling into a heartbreaking mess. There's a death-bed scene at the end which is possibly the most emotionally vulnerable you'll ever see Cruise — shaking and quivering — which is amplified by the lore surrounding the other characters.
He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2000 Oscars for that role, coming out on top among an ensemble cast featuring the likes of John C. Reilly (Licorice Pizza), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights), Julianne Moore (Children of Men), and William H. Macy (Fargo).
Magnolia is available to rent or purchase from Google Play Movies and YouTube Movies.
Filmmaker Michael Mann is really good at creating heavily mood-driven noir-ish worlds, presented through the eyes of loner protagonists who are extremely skilled at whatever profession forms the crux of his nighttime stories. In Collateral, that character is represented by Cruise's Vincent, a highly focused, silver-haired sociopathic hitman, who hitches a ride in the good-natured Max's (Jamie Foxx) taxi, riding around Los Angeles and dishing out hot takes that devolve into murderous mayhem. He's like a shark almost, meticulously circling his victims at loud clubs with a level of steely charisma, as he attempts to tick off his killing contract.
Poor Max, who just wants to start his limousine business, gets dragged into the killing spree — metaphorically handcuffed, in a sense — with the pair even visiting his mother at a hospital to ensure alibis are solid. It's a carefully crafted film that shows conflicting world views based on either character's personal experiences, as they argue about nihilistic beliefs, culminating in a confrontation between the two. Collateral also stars Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac) as LAPD undercover narcotics detective Ray Fanning, and Jada Pinkett Smith (Men in Black 3).
Collateral is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video. Meanwhile, YouTube Movies, Google Play Movies, and Apple TV also provide options for purchasing it.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick's final outing Eyes Wide Shut was something of a wild swing for Cruise, as it was one of the rare occasions — besides the Mission: Impossible films — where his good looks and charm were finally used as a propeller for a film's plot or his character's persona. In it, he plays Dr. William ‘Bill' Harford, who embarks on a bizarre, sex-charged nightly odyssey in Manhattan, when his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) confesses to having sexual fantasies about a man she met at a party. The erotic drama takes a twisted turn involving a high-class ritualistic orgy involving masked individuals, as Bill slowly realises that he's in over his head. As an epilogue to Kubrick's career, the movie holds the record for the longest film shoot ever, standing at 400 days.
Cruise exhibits an intense display of wounded male pride and bewilderment, which helps us connect with the character as he sinks deeper into a rabbit hole ornate with Venetian masks, passwords, and wacky characters. At the time, much of the sexual content was cut out and altered by Warner Bros. to avoid an NC-17 rating, which was understandably panned by critics and audiences alike. Eyes Wide Shut also stars Todd Field (Tár), Sydney Pollack (The Sopranos), and Marie Richardson (Shed No Tears).
Eyes Wide Shut can be rented via Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.
Cruise teamed up with Steven Spielberg for this futuristic sci-fi thriller, which explores a fictional 2054 dystopia where the police use a special division called the ‘Precrime Unit' that predicts and prevents crimes before they happen. At the centre of the action is John Anderton, an officer working in the unit, who has proudly reduced the murder rate in Washington to zero, only to soon become the prime target of his division when his face shows up as a potential criminal. As his entire life begins to shatter, he questions the validity of the technology and how choice differs from motive. Minority Report also features that iconic scene of Cruise getting eyeball surgery, but it's his interaction with the precog Agatha (Samantha Morton) that gets you teary-eyed.
The film is loosely based on author Phillip K. Dick's 1956 novella ‘The Minority Report,' marking a pivotal collaboration between the actor and the director which even spawned a video game and a TV series — the latter was cancelled after one season. Minority Report also stars Colin Farrell (The Batman) as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, Neal McDonough (Legends of Tomorrow) as Precrime Officer Fletch, and Lois Smith (Lady Bird) as the creator of Precrime Dr. Iris Hineman.
Minority Report is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.
Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick marks Cruise's return to the cockpit after 36 years, as a high-flying sequel that carried much of 2022's Hollywood theatrical business on its shoulders. 30 years after graduating from Top Gun, Captain Pete ‘Maverick' Mitchell, who still remains a test pilot due to his insubordination, is tasked with training a detachment of younger graduates for a specialised mission with a lot running on the line. While Cruise's character does bear the showmanship and confidence of shooting down planes, it's the sombre moments of his uncertain future and the lingering grief of losing Goose in the first film that really cements his performance. Adding to the guilt-driven performance is his back-and-forth dynamic with Lieutenant Bradley ‘Rooster' Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Goose, who dislikes Maverick.
Cruise seamlessly slips back into the patch-covered aviator's jacket, delivering groundbreaking action in aerial acrobatics, as he reunites with his Mission: Impossible partner Christopher McQuarrie, who serves writing duties in Top Gun: Maverick. Directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy), the film ranked #2 among the biggest Hollywood releases in 2022, with a cast lineup featuring Jennifer Connelly as Maverick's love interest Penelope, Jon Hamm (Baby Driver) as Vice Admiral Beau Simpson, Glen Powell (Sand Castle) as Lieutenant Jake Seresin, and Val Kilmer returning as Admiral Tom ‘Iceman' Kazansky.
Top Gun: Maverick is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Additionally, you can rent or purchase it as VOD from Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, and Apple TV.
Top Gun: Maverick Review
The titular Jerry Maguire is a slick sports agent who is willing to do almost anything to get the best contracts for his clients. However, when criticism from an injured player's son triggers an epiphany, he questions his dishonest profession as a whole, expressing his desire to work with fewer clients and form stronger interpersonal bonds. This leads to him losing his job and all of his clients, except for Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), an egotistical football wide receiver, and he is forced to rebuild his life from the ground up. Cameron Crowe's writing serves as a metaphor for the American dream of finding success and money, through lines of dialogue that have cemented itself in film history.
Quotes such as “Show me the money,” “You complete me,” and “Help me help you” overshadow much of Cruise's nuanced performance, as he tries to find his purpose and falls in love with his secretary Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger). Kelly Preston (Mischief), Jerry O'Connell (Scream 2), Jay Mohr (Air), and Jonathan Lipnicki (Stuart Little) round out the cast lineup for Jerry Maguire.
Jerry Maguire is up for streaming on Sony Liv. It can also be rented or bought for home viewing on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, and Apple TV.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
There's a handful of Mission: Impossible films that could easily fill spots on this list, but doing so would diminish the purpose of presenting the varied range Cruise has exhibited throughout his 40-year-long stint in the film business. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a massive step-up, continuing the franchise's legacy of growing in popularity and quality over time, as Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker (Henry Cavill) to eliminate whatever's left of the Syndicate, an international group of spies gone rogue. The group threatens to use plutonium cores to lead direct attacks on the Mecca, the Vatican, and Jerusalem, but soon enough, the bombs go missing, kickstarting a race against time to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
The perfect marriage of Cruise and director McQuarrie has resulted in some delectable action sequences, be it the former performing a HALO jump stunt or hopping across rooftops in London, only to continue running despite breaking his ankle in the process. That's some perseverance. With its envelope-pushing action that serves as an engaging popcorn thriller, it's no surprise that MI Fallout went on to become the highest-grossing film in the franchise, making $791.1 million (about Rs. 6,517) at the global box office. Its follow-up, the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is expected to top that — a tough feat considering its oncoming competition that is 'Barbenheimer', scheduled to released just a week later.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It can also be rented or bought as VOD from YouTube Movies and Apple TV.
Mission: Impossible - Fallout Review
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