We’re mere hours from the American launch of Joseph Kosinski’s sci-fi flick Oblivion and already I’m seeing this bizarre comment: I’d check it out, but Tom Cruise is in it. Hm? I heard the same thing when I told friends I went to see Jack Reacher – a film I wouldn’t personally recommend for its own set of problems – but I guess it’s something that goes back years, decades even. Cruise has conjured plenty of reasons to dislike him, but… why so serious?
Because I like to do my research, something Cruise berated Matt Lauer about, I sought the core issues that people have with the actor and came down to an epic pair.
Tom Cruise Is Not A Great Actor, He’s A Pretty Boy Who Found His Way Up The Ladder Somehow. I immediately related to this because I feel the same way about Leonardo DiCaprio and people have given me so much shit about it. There was a point when even I didn’t want to see a DiCaprio film because he won the world over with his “performance” in Titanic. I got over it as his looks have faded (he’s still a beautiful man, I’m not conceding that), but I still never understood how the better-than-average Leonardo was able to score all those lead roles in blockbuster hits while my pal Robert Patrick was doing The Marine.
In turn, Tom Cruise is simply the eighties’ version of Leonardo DiCaprio. People don’t understand how he got on top, he just got there. It’s the Kardashian Problem. I don’t mind Tom Cruise’s acting. He’s an action-ready everyman and does what he has to do. To that extent, him Tom Cruising his way through his parts is better than many people who actually try. If Cruise playing smug is somehow offensive, then you must revolt at what most actors do in most movies. No, he won’t win over the Shakespeare crowds, but that’s plenty fine in my book.
Tom Cruise Is Crazy. Indeed he is – crazy dedicated! Sure he gave up Nicole Kidman so that he could have, well, nothing, but this is a man who is so laser-focused in what he does that it’s admirable. He does his own stunts, he gets involved with the process and in interviews at least, well, most of them, he seems like an affable chap.
But we were all there when he lashed out at Matt Lauer (who probably deserves a lashing at this point for unrelated reasons) and when he hopped on Oprah’s couch and when he was in that leaked Scientology video with the Mission: Impossible riff that would not stop looping. Yeah, we get that at a point, he embraced Scientology with the same laser focus that he displays in his films. He’s not just a pamphlet-waving Scientologist who greets you at the audit station, he learned everything about the religion backward and forward, then sought its highest ranks.
Now this isn’t the place where we crack into the validity of Scientology – or religion altogether – but anyone who steps on the silver screen and is able to leave all that behind them is admirable. I think Cruise does it. Counterpoint: Lindsay Lohan, who is a messy blur in everything she does now, on and off the camera. Have your crazy opinions about how there’s no such thing as mental chemical imbalances, fine, but leave it out of my Video On-Demand rental. I’m beyond Tom Cruise’s crazy. He’s toned it down and Tropic Thunder was an excellent vehicle to rehabilitate his image with.
Sure, I suppose grudges will be grudges, but I don’t know why Cruise gets the brunt of it. If we’re gonna hate his movies, do it because they suck, not because Tom Cruise lost out on Katie Holmes, too.