Tom Cruise, for many reasons, has been the punchline to a lot of jokes of recent years. His highly public courting and marriage and divorce to Katie Holmes, his controversial affiliation with Scientology, a string of under-performing or disappointing films and just some general weirdness has meant some of the great work Cruise has done has been knocked and criticised unfairly.
Cruise has made a bunch of bad movies, and when he’s bad he’s really bad, but he didn’t become the biggest movie star in the world and a three time Oscar nominee for no reason. Cruise has shown considerable range in his thirty year career, from his defining role in Risky Business to a sociopathic hitman in Collateral, and despite his miniature height, he’s one of the mightiest screen-presence’s of his generation.
Tom Cruise’s successes have always come when partnered with a great director. Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann and Stanley Kubrick have all directed Cruise towards fantastic performances that helped define him as one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, and it’s no coincidence that in some of his failures, he’s been directed by lesser talents.
With Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol becoming his biggest financial hit ever, it shows even at 50, Tom Cruise still has something. With the highly anticipated Jack Reacher released in the US today (it comes out in the UK in a week’s time), it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the ups and downs of Tom Cruise’s career.
5 Awesome Performances:
5. Vincent Lauria – The Color of Money
In amongst both Martin Scorsese and Tom Cruise’s back catalogue, there is one distinctly over-looked classic. That classic is The Color of Money. Paul Newman may have won all the praise and accolades, but Cruise turns out to be a title-challenging sparring partner. Tom Cruise has always been at his best when surrounded by sublime talent and you don’t get better than Scorsese and Newman.
In his first truly dramatic role, Cruise exhilarates as the cocky and charismatic Vincent, who becomes the prodigy Newman’s iconic Fast Eddie. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when working with Scorsese and Newman but Cruise seems to take it in his stride, coming off the incredible success of Top Gun, and his bravado makes him perfect for the role. Paul Newman and his genius certainly elevates Cruise into being confident enough to pull the role off, even if Newman is as great as he ever was in it. There’s always been an edge to Tom Cruise, an indefinable ‘something’ that makes him an alluring and captivating presence on screen, which is most explicitly explored in Magnolia, but the catalyst for Cruise’s character in Magnolia is somewhere in Vincent Lauria.
Cruise embodies the strutting arrogance of youth in the movie, reflecting a life Fast Eddie was once so familiar, and Cruise is in many ways reminiscent of a young Paul Newman. The Color of Money was a step up from Risky Business and Top Gun, showing Cruise could be an actor as well as a movie star, and nearly thirty years on, the greatness of the film and performances still holds up against modern contemporary cinema.
This article was first posted on December 21, 2012