Watching the trailer for the new “Mission: Impossible” movie, starring Tom Cruise as the lead, felt like I was experiencing a very strong déjà vu moment. I’d seen this trailer many times before – bathroom fights, 3-minute running sequences, the villain who always turns out to be British – and the main character was all too familiar.
I’d seen him in the 1986 “Top Gun,” the 2005 “War of the Worlds” and the 2014 “Edge of Tomorrow,” and while scrolling through Tom Cruise’s IMDb page it became very clear to me that this was no coincidence – he has literally been playing the same character for over 32 years.
Tom Cruise is a cool, sunglass-wearing blockbuster machine who loves being the hero, and while it took him a few movies to finally find his “calling,” once he got ahold of the recipe that makes him a happy boy and sells over and over and over again, he’s never looked back. Whether he’s playing a NASCAR driver, a simple family man or an actual samurai, you can always count on him to save planet Earth and defeat the evil British woman, thanks to his impeccable moral compass, and then, of course, get the girl. He’s the Daniel Craig of America, only without the mystery and class.
But don’t take my word for it – let’s look at the facts.
Top Gun (1986)
Cruise plays a cocky pilot who is sent to “Top Gun,” where all the best pilots are, and where he gets to wear his cool sunglasses. He proves to everyone that he is the best by killing them with corny comebacks such as “That’s right. I am dangerous,” and in the end makes out with the pretty blond.
The Color of Money (1986)
Cruise plays a cocky billiard player who becomes the student of Eddie Felson, a former player who wants to make him the best of the best because apparently, he has “potential.” Yeah, right. In the end Cruise’s character makes out with a pretty girl.
Cruise plays Brian Flanagan, a cocky bartender who becomes the student of Doug Coughlin, another bartender who wants to make him the best of the best. He gets a job in Jamaica and takes it, unexpectedly falling in love while there with – brace yourselves – a pretty blond!
Days of Thunder (1990)
Cruise plays an arrogant (or cocky, one might say) car driver with an older mentor who gets to compete at the top level because, well, he’s the best. His love interest is blond. They make out a few times.
A Few Good Men (1992)
Cruise plays a cocky military lawyer who, despite never having seen the inside of a courtroom before, is the best lawyer the US government has ever seen. He assumes the woman also assigned to the case actually likes him and, while it’s not shown in the trailer, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they make out in the end.
The Firm (1993)
Cruise plays a brilliant but cocky, the rookie lawyer who is assigned to a big case at a law firm despite being new because he’s the best. He starts making six figures and becomes renowned, however, he discovers the law firm he works for is evil and turns against it. This movie is different because his love interest is brunette.
Mission: Impossible (aka the beginning of Tom Cruise 2.0, 1996) – Cruise plays a brilliant secret agent who, when accused of being disloyal, sets out on a mission to uncover the real spy. He has sidekicks who only communicate using tablets while sitting in futuristic rooms, wears a lot of suits and cool sunglasses, runs a lot and smirks while explosions are happening in the background. His love interest is blond and the villain is British.
(Fast forward dozens of identical films later, to present times.)
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
Cruise plays a super duper smart secret agent who is assigned to a mission that goes wrong when a dangerous man escapes his custody. His sidekick uses a tablet a lot while never leaving a futuristic-looking room. Cruise runs A LOT despite several other, more convenient means of transport at hand, flies a helicopter, fights men in suits in public restrooms, argues with the CIA and walks slowly while cars explode in the background. There are also several attractive women in the movie, both brunette and blond (I guess he just couldn’t choose!). He makes out with at least one of them. The villain is British. This movie is really just everything he’s ever done piled into one.
In all fairness, while Tom Cruise might be the corniest man alive and the embodiment of all blockbuster cliches, that doesn’t make him any less of an icon. While I was in hysterics when scrolling through his IMDb page, he’s probably laughing right back at me, 10 times harder, because he has made and will continue to make millions of dollars through these movies. 50 years from now, when I’m old and grey, Tom Cruise will still look 20 and he’d be shooting the 30th sequel to Mission: Impossible, so hats off to him. He’s obviously doing something right.
Photo credits: W Magazine