Tom Cruise has been a movie star for almost 40 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 Top Gun: Maverick – his belated sequel to the flyboy blockbuster that made him truly, global-celebrity famous – finally hitting theaters (and with a new two-part Mission: Impossible movie set to come out next year), 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. (All entries written by Bilge Ebiri unless otherwise noted.)