Tom Cruise's 14 Best Action Movies, Ranked
Tom Cruise is the king of running in movies. When he's not sprinting like the T-1000, he's punching, shooting, or hanging off planes as Hollywood's A-List action hero. As he kick-punches into theaters with "The Mummy," we've ranked Cruise's best action movies based on their kick-ass set pieces, action scenes, and overall story.
14. 'Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back' (2016)
This 2016 entry is early '90s TV movie bad. Filmed with the narrative momentum of a nap, Cruise Lunesta's his way through this sequel, which features weird wide shots of people running and lots of lingering "gonna-make-you-fall-asleep" close-ups. The first film was a fun, gritty throwback to the types of action movies they used to make for adults. This sequel all but kills hopes for a part three. RIP, Jack Reacher franchise.
13. 'The Mummy' (2017)
This movie, guys... It's as if its plot was brought to you by "convoluted" and "muddled." Tonally, the movie is all over the place, too. Cruise anchors one or two entertaining action scenes (like the plane sequence pictured here), but he plays a hero who, when he's not raiding treasures in modern-day, war-torn Iraq, he's making inappropriate quips while doing it. So, yeah, that's not good -- and neither is joking with his best friend that one day, Cruise is gonna get him killed. Guess what happens? Cruise gets him killed. Good luck with this whole Dark Universe thing.
12. 'Oblivion' (2013)
Few movies embody style over substance like this sci-fi action misfire. Cruise looks bored, just hitting his mark through one shiny shot of futuristic set dressing after another, in this story (based on an unpublished comic book) about a guy charged with a mundane, repair-man task in a post-apocalyptic world who comes into contact with a mysterious woman and his clone.
11. 'M:I-2' (2000)
This movie was the sh** back in 2000. Now, we see it as just a sh***y, guilty pleasure. John Woo directs Cruise's first "Mission" sequel, complete with doves, double-guns, more doves, lots of slow-mo shots of Cruise whipping his hair around, and this sequence -- two motorcycles jousting as their riders chest-punch each other midair. *kisses fingertips*
10. 'Knight and Day' (2010)
"Logan" director James Mangold got his action movie chops on this under-performer from Summer 2010. Cruise was still suffering from "Couch-gate" backlash, so audiences largely stayed away from this more-fun-than-you-think action comedy about a guy who is either a spy, or crazy, or both, who teams up with an above-average normal girl (Cameron Diaz) on a globe-trotting mission full of inventive set pieces (that fight aboard an empty passenger jet is an all-timer for Cruise) and decent laughs.
9. 'Jack Reacher' (2012)
AKA "Punching: The Motion Picture." Based on "One Shot," the popular grocery store fiction by Lee Child, "Jack Reacher" makes you forget the non-controversy surrounding Cruise being cast as the 6-foot literary hero and drops audiences into a gritty, Pittsburgh-set whodunit made for adults. Score bonus for Cruise's epic parking lot brawl and that practical car chase out of a '70s film.
8. 'War of the Worlds' (2005)
When extremely hostile aliens invade, Ray (Cruise) and his family have to survive not only the aliens, but their fellow earthlings in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic. This 9/11 allegory comes undone in the third act with an eye-rolling ending, but the first two thirds are some of the most confident directing Spielberg as ever done. And the set pieces -- especially the Tripods' emergence -- offer up some great Cruise runs.
7. 'Top Gun' (1986)
Fighter planes? Check. Kenny effin' Loggins on the soundtrack? Check. Slow-mo shirtless volleyball montage? Check AND mate. While Cruise doesn't punch or run, he does ride motorcycles and, technically, punch enemy planes with missiles. Win win.
6. 'Mission: Impossible' (1996)
Tom Cruise's insistence on performing his own stunts is probably a source of many headaches for the people financing his movies. But it certainly results in some great action scenes, like the near-silent theft of the NOC List or this run from an exploding aquarium restaurant. Cruise's dedication to the craft is one reason why this stylish, big-budget update of the classic TV series stands the test of time two decades later -- the "Mission: Impossible" franchise is still going strong.
5. 'M:i:3' (2006)
The third "Mission: Impossible" isn't generally regarded as one of the best in the franchise, but we doubt anyone could find fault in Cruise's contribution. Not only did he deliver more death-defying stunts -- like being detonated into a Dodge Stratus (seen here) -- he showed us he can cry on command. We also love the opening tactical assault and that inventive fight in the elevator, where Ethan -- gagged and confined to a gurney -- takes out bad guys with the emergency phone.
4. 'Minority Report' (2002)
One of Cruise and Spielberg's most underrated films, their first blockbuster together is a cerebral, character-driven adaptation of Philip K. Dick's work about PreCrime. Cruise's John Anderton works to stop criminals from committing future crimes, while he suffers through a past trauma. He only really lives in the present when he is accused of a murder he has yet to commit. An epic alley way chase via jet pack and some nail-biting tension are highlights here, in addition to the engaging, well-written screenplay from co-writer Scott Frank.
3. 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' (2011)
This "Mission" changed the direction of the franchise forever, injecting it with scary-good, endlessly inventive set pieces in a sequel full of them -- in fact, there is enough action here to sustain at least one more film. Our favorites: Cruise's all-in-camera free climb of -- and pendulum swing on -- the tallest building ever and a foot-turned-car chase through a sandstorm. Two things we've, gladly, never seen before.
2. 'Edge of Tomorrow' (2014)
The winner for Most Underrated Bog Studio Release That Deserved Better Box Office goes to "Edge of Tomorrow." It's "Halo" by way of "Groundhog Day," as Cruise goes from selfish military PR man to selfless war hero thanks to a time loop that forces him to Live. Die. Repeat. in a war against an alien race. It's full of explosions and edge-of-your-seat, fist-pumping stunts. Come for the dizzying opening assault that's Normandy Beach times 12, stay for the "wish-I-came-up-with-that" car chase-turned-shoot out between Cruise and an alien.
1. 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' (2015)
How do you top hanging from a building? Hanging from a cargo plane, while flying, in IMAX. Cruise is the movie star equivalent of Super Dave, only he really does his own stunts -- which he next levels in this five-quel, a franchise high point.