Tom Cruise has been a movie star for more than 30 years now. Let that sink in for a bit. In his annus mirabilis of 1983, he seemed to appear fully-formed from the collective id of Reagan’s America – the then–21-year-old actor appeared in no less than four movies, and starred in three of them. Whether he was a working class football star (All the Right Moves) or an entitled dork (Risky Business), he was always “Tom Cruise” – driven, laser-focused and upright, even when running a fly-by-night brothel out of his parents’ house. That image helped fuel such later successes as Top Gun and Cocktail, but Cruise also smartly complicated it, first in films like Born on the Fourth of July and Rain Man, and later in films like Magnolia and Minority Report. The star may have had us at “Hello,” but he still figured out a way to continue to be Tom Cruise™ even while expanding his range and appearing in more ambitious films.
So in light of American Made – his “based on a true lie” tale of a pilot becoming a key player in both Pablo Escobar’s coke-fueled empire and the U.S. war on drugs – hitting theaters, we’re updating our list of good, great and grating Cruise-controlled movies. Which ones have held up, which ones have aged badly and which ones gained new relevance? We have both a need for speed and the answers. Here are Tom Cruise’s movies, ranked from worst to best.