Tom Cruise is the consummate action star; with a carefully toned body and single-minded focus, he is able to deliver both emotion and action. A significant portion of his film career has been dedicated to action movies, from “Top Gun” to the “Mission: Impossible” series. The top five grossing action movies in Cruise’s oeuvre were runaway hits at box offices around the world. They brought in millions, securing his place among the world’s most popular action stars.
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
The fourth in the “Mission: Impossible” series, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” became the most profitable of Tom Cruise’s extensive action career soon after it was released in 2011. Internationally, it made over $692 million. The story follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) on his latest and greatest mission around the world-including a nerve-wracking scene on the exterior of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The movie marks a return to the lightness of the first two in the “Mission: Impossible” series, whose popularity was damaged by a darker third movie. With rollicking action scenes, a fanciful plot, plenty of self-effacing laughter, and dramatic international locations, “Ghost Protocol” gave audiences the escapist experience they were looking for.
“War of the Worlds”
Until 2011, “War of the Worlds” was Cruise’s top grossing film project; after its release in 2005, it came in at $591 million. A reimagined version of H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name, “War of the Worlds” was an international success. Director Steven Spielberg managed to create an authentic feeling of fear with his dramatic robot aliens. Despite the unlikely premise, the movie feels realistic and genuine, largely owing to the acting of Cruise and his supporting cast. The action scenes gain extra depth by the presence of Ray’s (Cruise) two children; the juxtaposition of youth and horror give the film an urgency and timeliness that increases its appeal.
“Mission: Impossible II”
Building on the success of the first movie in the franchise, “Mission: Impossible II” brought in $546 million worldwide. The plot centers on the threat of biochemical warfare, giving Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt the opportunity to chase down a new kind of evil. In addition to the requisite action scenes where Cruise runs, shoots, and pursues criminals, the movie includes double identities. In a particularly chilling scene, one of the leading female characters injects herself with the toxic virus in order to keep it from the forces of evil. The film has the hallmarks of Cruise’s best action films, including his blinding smile and impossibly toned physique. The introduction of the biochemical virus adds a timely, realistic element that adds a touch of possibility to the movie.
“The Last Samurai”
In a period departure from his usual acting fare, Cruise stars as an American officer who ends up in the middle of the Japanese samurai culture. The juxtaposition of war, the period, and ancient customs create a visually stunning spectacle. Audiences responded, and “The Last Samurai” grossed $456 million worldwide. Although most of Cruise’s action films are set in modern day, his foray into historical action/adventure was a success. He is convincing in his role as a soldier haunted by wars past and uses the emotion to propel his role as an action star in a samurai setting. The film demonstrates a respect for ancient traditions and gives Cruise the chance to explore a new physical setting and fighting style.
The film that started the “Mission: Impossible” franchise is a fitting tribute to Cruise’s abilities as an action hero. The movie contains memorable scenes that have become film icons; the heart-pounding drop onto the sensor-rigged bank fault floor has been parodied and replicated, but never with the success of the original. With a worldwide gross of $457 million, “Mission: Impossible” set the bar high for Cruise’s action career. The final scene, which involves a high-speed chase across a moving train and a last-minute helicopter crash, left audiences breathless. Cruise’s debut as Ethan Hunt cemented his status as an action movie hero.
Since his initial, dramatic appearance in 1986’s “Top Gun,” Tom Cruise has been an action movie mainstay. His personality has increased in intensity over the years, inspiring his acting skills to new heights; he is unfailingly believable in his action roles, whether he is playing a spy running from the law or a samurai sympathizer. Cruise’s film career has spanned two decades, but his ability to move action movie audiences has not diminished; if the box office numbers are proof, his film presence has gotten more powerful with age.