Critic's Notebook: Tom Cruise, Show Us the Money - but Also the Weirdness - 2015-07-31
Last year, Tom Cruise starred in Edge of Tomorrow as a smarmy US Army deserter caught in a time loop that keeps bringing him back to the previous morning after he is repeatedly killed by alien invaders. A cross between War of the Worlds and Groundhog Day, Doug Liman's futuristic fantasy featured one of the 53-year-old's smartest, most layered performances in a filmography spanning more than three decades.
Many critics could not resist drawing parallels with Cruise's own bumpy career, which time and time again has seemed to be on the verge of crashing, yet keeps bouncing back stronger than before. After some bizarre public outbursts and spats, two dramatic divorces and increasingly unsettling rumors and revelations about his Scientology connections, Brand Cruise is depleted but clearly not defeated: His new film, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, may push the actor's box-office total north of $8 billion, making him one of the most consistently bankable stars in movie history.
Of course, charm, charisma and smart choices are part of the package. He built his career with flashy Reagan-era vehicles like Risky Business and Top Gun, delivering performances that were all Ray-Ban shades, toothy grin and cocksure swagger. And for his first two decades in the spotlight, Cruise maintained an iron control on his image — banning toys made in his likeness, employing heavy-duty publicists and litigation-happy lawyers, doing appearances that were salesman-slick and politician-smooth, carefully choreographed for maximum public exposure and minimum personal risk.