Tom Cruise Movies From Worst to Greatest

Tom Cruise is quite simply one of our greatest living movie stars. While the term "movie star" is used less and less in today's Hollywood landscape, Cruise remains a great entertainer, a larger-than-life performer – an icon of the big screen. His personality transcends fame, and for the past nearly four decades he has produced unforgettable accomplishments after unforgettable accomplishments and proven adept at traversing a myriad of genres – some with more success than others. Cruise's film career is the epitome of success, from the boyish 80s protagonist to the classic lead actor to the action hero. This is evidence of his talent that he can be taken as seriously in a dark, complex drama of a writer-filmmaker as he can in a major blockbuster franchise.

And while PR issues resulted in a sharp left turn into blockbuster-only material in the mid-2000s, Cruise remains a reliable source of entertainment. The audience can be sure that the actor will not leave anything on the table when he sees a Tom Cruise film. This is the guy who literally hung on the tallest building in the world for our entertainment. It is this focus on a happy audience that exemplifies Cruise's status as a "movie star," but it is the actor's talent, ambition, and willingness to venture into uncertain territory that make him our greatest living movie star.

For this reason, it was appropriate to go back to all of Cruise's filmography and take a closer look at all of his work Faucets to Mission: Impossible – Falloutand rank every single film from worst to best. While this seemed like a fairly simple task at first as I delved deeper into the actor's work, I realized that Cruise made more really good films than he didn't. It's one thing to have the longevity that Cruise enjoyed, but the actor's filmography is consistently solid – even most of the "bad" Tom Cruise films have some kind of redemption quality.

A few notes before we begin: This is a ranking of Tom Cruise films, not performances. So the order I put in here has to do with the entire movie, not just Cruise's performance. Also, I didn't take the 1983s into account Losin 'It due to lack of availability and also omitted in 1981 Endless Love given the lack of extensive time for cruise.

So without further ado, I am presenting you with every Tom Cruise movie that is rated worst to best.

40. Lions for lambs

Image via United Artists

This 2007 Robert Redford The drama followed Cruise's PR themes and was seen at first sight as a potential comeback for the actor, but would in the end mark Cruise's final foray into pure drama territory. It is unclear whether this was a result of the image problems perceived by Cruise or the quality of the film Lions for lambs is the worst film on the actor's résumé. It's the equivalent of a Facebook political meme brought to life – a pedantic, hollow "moral game" that goes nowhere and is so unspoken with the handling of its subject that, as a self-proclaimed liberal, you may have questions about your political beliefs.

Cruise is fine as a Conservative Senator trying to sell a new military venture in Afghanistan, and the role has been promising as Cruise rarely tackled anything so starkly political but Redford treated it with a script of the wrong Matthew Michael Carnahan that reads like liberal fan fiction. The ideas in the film aren't wrong, but they are so complacent and have no interest in telling any semblance of a story that they appear groaning. If you can see this movie without rolling your eyes, you deserve a medal.

39. Legend

Legend Tom Cruise

Image via Universal

It's no coincidence that Tom Cruise hasn't made the slightest foray into the fantasy genre since starring in Ridley ScottThe original dark fantasy adventure Legend. The film is honestly pretty bad, with a meandering plot and thin character motivations, all underlined by a distractingly incongruent, synth-heavy score of Mandarin dream. The only good thing about Legend are the incredibly impressive makeup effects that transform Tim Curry into an almost unrecognizable Lord of Darkness. Cruise clearly feels uncomfortable in the lead role as he has little to do William HjortsbergHis script and his first attempt at making the leap from promising lead actor to blockbuster lead was unsuccessful – although he bounced back that same year with a small film called gut Top gun.

38. Faucets

taps-tom-cruise

Image via 20th Century Fox

Faucets is a well-made film about a couple of dummies. When the entire premise depends on a group of children from the military academy taking over the school at gunpoint to keep it from closing, the "heroes" are difficult to find. Her overall scheme is what we call flawed logic, and despite the fact that the characters notice their flaw as the film progresses, Taps spends far too much time announcing their "honor" and sense of duty. Cruise was his first major role in a feature film, and it's fun to watch him play the testosterone-fueled, plump supporting character. It's a personality type he's played with a couple of times in his career, but never with as much purity as Cadet Captain David Shawn.

37. Rock of Ages

Rock-of-Age-Film-Picture-Malin-Akerman-Tom-Cruise

Image via Warner Bros.

Rock of Ages is a film in which Tom Cruise sings Malin AkermanButt and yet Cruise is pretty much the only good thing about it Adam ShankmanMusical adaptation. I suppose it shouldn't come as a huge surprise, given Cruise's dedication to every single role, but his consistently delightful performance as Stacee Jaxx is incredible. The rest of the movie … well, this is still a movie with Tom Cruise singing into Malin Akerman's butt. Shankman's staging of the musical sequences is surprisingly lackluster, and the overabundance of autotune distracts from what a fun jukebox shuffle should be. The story is downright silly, and Rock of Ages as a whole is proof that not every musical is ripe for the treatment of feature films.

36. The mummy

the-mummy-tom-cruise

Image via Universal Pictures

The Mummy is one of the biggest wastes of Tom Cruise's talent in recent times. His Nick Morton character does not contain any appealing or unique character traits. Instead, we get a protagonist who simply reacts to plot points and moves the story forward without grace or agency. His subjects are hazy, the audience has no reason to care, and there is a romantic twist that comes out of nowhere and doesn't work at all. Morton completely lacks the charisma, complexity, or darkness that make Cruise's action heroes so compelling, but it does in some ways match the mildness of the entire film.

The mummy wants to be funny and scary and adventurous, but only by going through the moves of comedies, horror films and adventure epics with no original ideas of their own. Even if Russell Crowe enters the movie as Dr. Jekyll, which was supposed to be an exciting new twist on a classic monster, has instead been turned into an exposure machine with few unique properties. The promise was to use the star power of Tom Cruise to develop a new twist on a classic universal monster, but unfortunately The Mummy is inadequate in almost every way. A total disappointment.

35. Mission: Impossible II

Mission-impossible-2-tom-cruise

Image via Paramount Pictures

Mission: Impossible II is the only bad movie from Mission: Impossible. Cruise understandably endeavored to get back to franchise mode after a series of intense dramatic roles in the late 1990s, but this action sequel is mostly a pointless task of a film as a director John Woo never comes close to producing an exciting sequence – action or no – throughout the film's runtime. Add in the fact that the purpose of Thandie NewtonThe character of is to literally distract the villain by having sex with him, and the whole movie really falls off the word "go". Fortunately, Cruise would bounce back at subsequent installments in the Mission: Impossible franchise, and while M: ​​I II would ultimately prove to be a necessary growing pain to enable development of this particular film franchise, it's still a somewhat crude observation.

34. Oblivion

Forget Tom Cruise

Image via Universal Pictures

director Joseph KosinskiSci-Fi Drama 2013 oblivion is an absolutely beautiful and incredibly boring spectacle. While Cruise characteristically gives this thing everything, the various "twists" are predictable and poorly executed, and the emotionally distant quality of Kosinski's direction makes what should be a full-blown science fiction drama a tedious and overly long undertaking. Claudio MirandaThe cinematography is certainly remarkable and M83The original score is epic in scope, but the film rolls along like a very pretty, very hollow music video, and not even Cruise's charisma can give this massively disappointing sci-fi image anything pulse-like.

33. Cocktail

Image via Buena Vista Images

The first 30 minutes or so of cocktail are actually pretty good. There's an airy charm to the film that's typical of so many other Hollywood films of the 80s, and it's pretty much fun to see Cruise start his bartending career. But then the movie becomes downright silly and gets more and more stupid over time. This is a deeply stupid movie, not really much going on in it, and Cruise's Brian Flanagan is interested in one thing and only one thing: Brian Flanagan. Indeed, the central driving force behind the story is the goal of making money, although that line makes sense in the context of the yuppie culture of the late 80s / early 90s.

Cruise's performance is a bit too high here, and his excitement is more offensive than contagious. But you can see shades of natural charisma and charm that would be further refined in subsequent films, and Cruise's range was fully on display in 1988 as it was the year that both cocktail and Rain man in the cinemas.

32. Jack Reacher: Never go back

Jack-Reacher-Never-Go-Back-Tom-Cruise

Image via Paramount Pictures

I'm not mad at you, Jack Reacher: Never go back. I'm just disappointed. The first Jack Reacher was a surprisingly rich, exhilarating, and ornate twist on the action hero formula, with Cruise as the main character delivering a dark and confident twist. The sequel, however, feels like what the story should have been for Jack Reacher 3 or 4thas it introduces a prospective daughter into the mix that throws Jack Reacher's life for a loop. We really could have spent more time honing the Reacher character first before introducing that "blast from the past" element into the hands of the director Edward Zwick it mostly falls flat.

The story isn't nearly as compelling as the first film, and the plot lacks a certain oomph from this director Christopher McQuarrie brought to the original (he passed the sequel on while busy with another cruise vehicle, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation). The film is not entirely without merit: Cobie Smulders makes a strong case for running your own action franchise, and Cruise delivers another solid accomplishment. It's just a disappointing drop in quality compared to the pleasant surprise of the first film.

31. Valkyrie

Tom Cruise Valkyrie

Image via United Artists

Valkyrie is one of the strangest entries on Cruise's resume. On paper, this thing should have been great Bryan Singer Director of a World War II dramatic thriller with Tom Cruise, written by Christopher McQuarrie. But in execution the story of the failed conspiracy to assassinate Hitler will never really begin. It's a fascinating movie in that it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why it's not working, but a major factor is the simple fact that anyone who sees it knows exactly how this thing is going to end, and therefore difficult is to find enthusiasm or root for a group of people whose plan is doomed to fail. Cruise is fine in the role of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the supporting cast is fine to capture the inner workings of the Nazi army, and Singer is able to put the whole story together. But in the end there is little to write home about, and nothing that really sets the film apart is more than a strange – but memorable – curiosity.

30th days of thunder

Days of Thunder Tom Cruise Car

Image via Paramount Pictures

While the prospect of rework by Tom Cruise and his Top gun director Tony Scott For a film about NASCAR that was incredibly promising, the end result was poor. For everything Top Gun did right Days of thunder I was wrong. There's a gripping movie in there somewhere, but the end result is all flashlight and no substance without the heart that made Top Gun so adorable. During the report between Cruise and Robert Duvall is interesting enough it can only go so far, and at heart Days of Thunder is a film that runs with fumes.

29. The color of money

Color of Money Tom Cruise Paul Newman

Image via Touchstone Pictures

A controversial ranking, I'm sure, but what a disappointing film. Martin Scorsese Working with Cruise and Paul Newman should have been cause for celebration, but The color of money– a continuation of the Newman vehicle The hustler– is shocking red and numerical and marks one of the most disappointing films on Scorsese's résumé. The film came out in 1986, the same year as Top gunand it's fascinating to compare Cruise's overexcited and youthful performance here with the assured confidence and complexity with which he tackled Top Gun. Sure, Vince's hot character is supposed to be more of a youthful nature, but Cruise and Scorsese overshoot and result in something more like an annoying little brother than a personable protagonist. The color of money just sits there, not terrible, but not great, completely unremarkable and frankly boring.

28. Everything is fine

Tom Cruise The right moves

Image via 20th Century Fox

It's a little surprising that Cruise managed to avoid so many stereotypical '80s films because he was such a hot item throughout the decade but in 1983 Doing everything right really stands out as unique in this regard. director Michael ChapmanThe story of a hot-headed soccer player in a town in Pennsylvania who wants nothing more than to go to college and escape a future job at the local factory is clichéd to the extreme, but Cruise manages to keep things a little more interesting by while he brings along a strange intensity for the role Lea ThompsonA friend's character almost manages to manifest in something resembling a real person. In the end, the story goes exactly where you think it will go and there isn't much else to make it worthwhile. It's a small entry on Cruise's résumé and his most memorable '80s movie, but it's not really bad in and of itself. Just incredibly familiar.

27. Tropical thunder

Tropic Thunder Tom Cruise

Image via Paramount Pictures

By the 2000s, Cruise had left the comedic days of his early career firmly behind. But after poor PR and a couple of movies that didn't really work, the actor made one of his more ambitious leaps when he took on the role of studio manager Les Grossman Ben StillerSatirical comedy tropical thunder. The result is a somewhat shocking and altogether comical twist from Cruise, which is almost unrecognizable in the part. It's not a particularly important role, so I considered removing Tropic Thunder from this list, but the film marks the beginning of a career turnaround for Cruise, making it an important milestone in his film career.

The film itself is an unreserved impaling of itself as important actors and the gluttony of Hollywood, and while it is certainly a very funny comedy, the film becomes exactly what it makes fun of while Stiller tries to have his cake and eat it too by creating your own bloated war epic that drones too long and loses sight of its central thrust. And yet it's still very funny and Cruise tops it all off like a cherry on an ice cream sundae while Les Grossman's grotesque dance plays over the credits.

26. The company

The Tom Cruise Company

Image via Paramount Pictures

In the late '80s / early' 90s, Cruise was pigeonholed almost as your typical American yuppie businessman, and perhaps his reddest movie of the time was the 1993 one John Grisham Adaptation The Company. While director Sydney PollackHandle on the Wicker man-esque tome is pretty confident and the story is convincing up to a point, the film is a little too long and tries to get too much ground under its feet. A longform approach could have been better suited to this particular source material, and it's no surprise an attempt was made to adapt a TV series a few years ago. Cruise is fine with his relationship too Gene Hackman is certainly the bright spot of the film, and the story is always exciting. But it's a movie that fades almost immediately after the credits. It's the movie equivalent of an airplane – satisfying and disposable.

25. American Made

American-Made-Tom-Cruise-Sarah-Wright

Image via Universal Pictures

Post Office-ValkyrieCruise made a concerted effort to avoid more dramatic material and focus on providing the best entertainment possible. This gave us great films like that Impossible mission Sequels and Jack Reacher, but the lack of complexity in the roles of Cruise was sorely lacking. American Made is the next cruise to have taken a "morally contradicting" lead since then securityand I don't know if it's a refreshing change or Doug LimanThe visceral filmmaking, but this thing works. Cruise brings the necessary amount of charisma to the role of Barry Seal, a guy who does some very bad things. but he is also totally spiraling out of control as Barry's life.

The film still fits into Cruise's "entertainment" mode as it is an incredibly exciting film, but it's not as action packed as Cruise's other recent films, and that gives the actor the opportunity to extend his reach by far better to present than in something like that The Mummy. While the film could probably have embraced the darkness even more, it's an exciting and refreshingly different type of film, at least for Tom Cruise's persona today.

24. Vanilla heaven

Vanilla sky cast

Image via Paramount Pictures

Vanilla heaven is a strange movie, but I'm not sure it's great. Writer / director Cameron CroweThe ambition of is admirable, as the film is still considered his greatest breakthrough to date and sees him firmly in the realm of the psychological thriller. But it lags behind in the category of Tom Cruise films, which depend on trippy dream sequences and leave a lot of room for interpretation Stanley Kubrick’S Eyes wide closed.

And yet, Vanilla Sky and Cruise has a certain charm that makes them pretty visible, even if Crowe himself doesn't seem sure what exactly is really going on. The soundtrack is to the point, and unsurprisingly Cameron Diaz proves to be a solid slide for Cruise in her first of two screen pairings. Vanilla Sky may be far from preventing landing, but Vanilla Sky has a certain moxie that makes it charming in its own unique way.

23. The outsiders

The outsider Tom Cruise

Image via Paramount Pictures

director Francis Ford Coppola1983 adaptation of The outsider It is well known that every hot young actor in Hollywood had been looking for a role, and in fact the ensemble (mostly) reads like a who's who of future megastars. Cruise is one of them, and while Steve Randle is a minor character in the ensemble scheme, Cruise does enough here to show that he's into this thing called "showbiz" in the long run. The film itself is a great twist on the coming-of-age genre with a West Side Story Twist, and the group of teenagers leading the cast, made a huge contribution to capturing life as a hot-headed youth in the 1960s. Furthermore, Coppola's willingness to cover the darker aspects of the novel makes the film a thematically rich and relevant clock. Stay gold, pony boy.

22. The last samurai

The Last Samurai Tom Cruise

Image via Warner Bros.

While the combination of the film's title and the giant image of Tom Cruise on the poster rubbed many in the wrong direction, The last samurai is actually a surprisingly thoughtful and sensitive historical epic. director Edward ZwickThe handling of this story set in Japan after the civil war is skillful, which leads to something similar Dance with wolves even if with even more heart. And Cruise is pretty great as a sorry, alcoholic soldier found in the world of the samurai – a dying race. Ultimately, The Last Samurai is a tale of redemption, and while Zwick's awe of the subject sometimes stifles the film (the pace is a bit uneven), it's ultimately a refreshingly unique twist in a genre that dominated the '90s. If anything, The Last Samurai is the only historical epic in Cruise's resume.

21. Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise Rosamund Pike Jack Reacher

Image via Paramount

Jack Reacher is a type of movie that looks like a movie you've seen a million times and in many ways is exactly the movie you were expecting, but that is so perfectly executed that it is beyond familiarity to make something whole To be special. Writer / director Christopher McQuarrie spin some damn good yarn in it Lee child Adaptation, and if casting Cruise as reacher was the number one brilliant decision, it was hiring Werner Herzog when the emotionless villain was barely a second.

Cruise's approach here is so sure-footed and confident that you'll buy every single move that Reacher makes, but this role differs from many of Cruise's other action heroes in that Reacher isn't overly cheerful. You can feel his anger every time someone underestimates him or puts another life in danger, and it is this facet of the character that makes him so observable and ultimately a memorable role on Tom Cruise. The performer eschews his natural charm and young excitability in favor of a much drier tone, and that suits him well. While the story may not be something you haven't seen before thanks to the skillful execution and unique twist for Cruise, Jack Reacher is one of Cruise's best-watched films.

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About the author

Adam Chitwood
(15478 articles published)

Adam Chitwood is the Managing Editor for Collider. He has worked for Collider for over a decade, doing content management, crafting interviews, award reporting, and co-hosting the Collider podcast with Matt Goldberg (which has been running since 2012). He is the creator and writer of Collider's "How the MCU Was Made" series and has interviewed Bill Hader on every single episode of Barry. He lives in Tulsa, OK, and enjoys pasta, 90s thriller, and spends 95% of his time with his dog Luna.

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