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The top five action movies starring Tom Cruise, ranked

Tom Cruise is without a doubt the last real movie star in Hollywood. According to “The Numbers,” Cruise is currently listed as number five on the website’s “Top 100 Stars in Leading Roles at the Domestic Box Office.” You can confidently say that Cruise is a cash magnet for the entertainment industry. Whether you agree with him or not on his political and/or religious views, the man knows how to get people into a movie theater. 

Cruise is directly comparable to filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and David Fincher in that he is absolutely obsessed with perfecting each and every movie he is a part of. To me, that is what makes Cruise so legendary. Standing at only 5 feet 7 inches tall, Cruise might as well have the courage of an African lion. The amount of potentially harmful or even deadly situations he puts himself in while performing stunts for his movies is mindblowing. 

Whereas most movies today would just have their actors perform stunts in an environment completely filled with a green or blue screen, Tom Cruise takes it a step further and actually films in the location where the scene is intended to be, according to the script. Cruise also makes other actors look like fools because he refuses to have a stunt double. The only other actors I can think of that are cut from the same cloth as Cruise are Willem Dafoe and Keanu Reeves. 

Cruise’s upcoming film, the highly anticipated “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” is coming to theaters on July 14. Of course, Cruise has been in many other action films prior to this one. Here are the top five best movies starring Tom Cruise, ranked:

5. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011) 

Coming in at number five is “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” directed by Brad Bird. This film comes in second place when it comes to ranking all of the “Mission: Impossible” films. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is a massive improvement over “Mission: Impossible III” (2006) and definitely “Mission: Impossible II” (2000).

This film is legendary because it features one of the greatest stunts Tom Cruise has ever done. Cruise climbed the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in a sequence that only had wires to support Cruise during the shoot. Watching the scene unfold before your very eyes is simply miraculous. I almost forget at times that Cruise is climbing an actual building instead of a digitally created one. It’s amazing what they could do with this movie. 

The film also features a scene where Cruise had to hold his breath underwater for a duration of seven minutes and forty-seven seconds. Unfortunately, the full scene was trimmed down to add other scenes so that the pacing didn’t seem off. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” is essentially a test of how far Cruise is willing to go in terms of capturing a perfect scene and I am here for it. 

4. “Minority Report” (2002) 

At number four, we have Steven Spielberg’s cult classic “Minority Report.” “Minority Report” is probably the most interesting film on this list because it is a film that is more focused on story rather than action. Set in the year 2054, Cruise plays John Anderton, the head of the Precrime unit for the police in Washington D.C. Precrime is a unit where the police use psychic technology to arrest and convict criminals before they are able to commit a crime. 

The police are able to do this through the usage of the “Precogs.” Precogs, or Precognitives, are a set of three people that possess a psychic ability to see events in the future. “Minority Report” is one of the best-written movies Tom Cruise has been a part of. The plot leads the audience in directions that they wouldn't expect and allows for a satisfying conclusion. 

What differentiates this film from the rest on the list is that Tom Cruise is on the run from the authorities. “Minority Report” is similar to Andrew Davis’ “The Fugitive” (1993) in that aspect of storytelling. “Minority Report” is a thrill-ride from start to finish and is one of Spielberg’s more engaging movies.  

3. “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)  

In third place, we have Doug Liman’s highly underrated science fiction/action film, “Edge of Tomorrow.” Other than “Minority Report,” “Edge of Tomorrow” is by far the most intriguing science fiction film Tom Cruise has been in. Although the premise of the movie isn’t exactly original, it still does a good job of introducing new ideas that make it able to stand on its own legs. 

Cruise’s co-star, Emily Blunt, delivers a wonderful performance in the movie. The chemistry between Blunt and Cruise is fun to watch and leads to some pretty awesome character moments. The concept of the time loop as it is portrayed in this film is very experimental. When the film shows scenes of Tom Cruise’s character, Bill Cage, dying in the warzone, each scene shows the events happening in a different way. 

This allows the filmmakers to create new ways to kill Cruise, which results in the production team being creative with their action scenes and style of editing. The end result is a science fiction/action film that was obviously very fun to make and has a lot of heart put into it. “Edge of Tomorrow” is a very enjoyable watch and should be recognized more by lovers of cinema and fans of Tom Cruise. 

2. “Top Gun: Maverick” (2022) 

In second place is the long-awaited sequel about everyone’s favorite Navy fighter pilot, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. This time, Maverick is accompanied by Nick “Goose” Bradshaw’s (played by Anthony Edwards) son Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (played by Miles Teller). The focal point of the film is the conflict between Maverick and Rooster. That is what makes this film much better than its predecessor.  

In the original Top Gun (1986), the story was more focused on Maverick butting heads with Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (played by Val Kilmer). While entertaining, the alpha male contest between Maverick and Iceman is just not as emotionally impactful as the drama between Maverick and Rooster. Both Cruise and Teller pour their heart and soul into their performances, respectively.  

As for the action, this film is glorious. Cruise insisted on actually flying in the Navy’s F/A-18s instead of using green screens. If they couldn’t accomplish that task, then Cruise would have opted out of the film entirely. It took a four-month-long training period for the cast of the film to fly in the planes. There are no words to describe how flawless the movie looks when it shows scenes of the pilots flying in each of their planes. It’s just an incredible feat in filmmaking. 

1. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018) 

Finishing off the list at number one is Christopher McQuarrie’s masterpiece, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” came out in a year filled with many other big and expansive blockbusters, like “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and “Black Panther,” just to name a few. However, with all of that competition, it still managed to receive a worldwide total of 791.7 million dollars at the box office. 

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is the best film in the series so far. All of the actors and actresses in the film do a fantastic job with their performances. The breakout star of the film is none other than Henry Cavill as August Walker. Cavill does a tremendous job in his first-ever villainous role. He really shows a wide range of acting skills with his performance here.  

What makes “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” better than the rest of the “Mission: Impossible” films is its high usage of practical effects rather than visual effects. The stunt choreography and hand-to-hand combat between different actors are impressive and realistic. The plot of the film is structured in a way where the audience will not be bored because each and every action scene is exciting and comes at the appropriate time. “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is a masterful achievement in action filmmaking and should be taken into consideration as a film to be studied in film school on how to shoot action scenes in new and interesting ways. 

It will be interesting to see where “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” ranks all-time in Tom Cruise’s filmography. Then again, it’s just one-half of an even larger cinematic experience. I suppose we shouldn’t judge it until “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two” comes out. 

Until then, audiences all over the world will get to see what crazy stunts Tom Cruise does in “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.” Tom Cruise is the last true movie star that Hollywood has left to give and it is because of one thing: he knows what the audience wants and gives it to them. That is what makes Tom Cruise a Hollywood icon. 


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