In recent years, Tom Cruise has seemingly been content to settle into being an action star. He’s done Mission: Impossible movies and Jack Reacher films, with others like Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow mixed in. That’s not to criticize Cruise for those choices. Some of those movies have been very good, and the Mission: Impossible franchise is still very lucrative, thanks largely to his willingness to perform all kinds of daring stunts to wow the audience.
But Cruise’s preference for action movies over the past 10 years (with the exception of smaller roles in Tropic Thunder and Rock of Ages) call into question whether or not he’s still interested in being an actor. As long as Cruise can run, jump and fight, people love him in those action roles. We’ll get to see him do that again this weekend in The Mummy. Based on the trailers and ads, however, Cruise seems a bit more willing to be a punching bag in that one. As with Edge of Tomorrow, it’s a twist on the relentless badasses he’s played like Ethan Hunt and Jack Reacher.
Cruise might still have some real acting left in him too. Judging from the new trailer for American Made, Cruise doesn’t play the action hero, though he may still be an adventurous swashbuckler who spits in the face of risk. Based on the real-life story of Barry Seal, Cruise plays a pilot who smuggled drugs for Colombian cartels. After he’s caught by the CIA, he offers to become an informant and arms runner for the agency. Take a look:
On one hand, this is very much a Tom Cruise role. The character gets by on his looks and charm, and is too cocky for his own good. The scene where he boasts to federal agents that he’s going to walk away is reminiscent of Cruise as Jack Reacher telling police officers what’s going to happen next. Cruise could seemingly play that character in his sleep.
But director Doug Liman pushed Cruise a bit harder and played with his image in Edge of Tomorrow, and maybe he’ll do the same here. The scene where Seal crashes a play in a neighborhood (presumably in Florida) and has cocaine all over him is something a bit different than we’ve seen from Cruise in recent years.
On a somewhat unrelated note, Cruise doesn’t seem to be promoting The Mummy very much. (Though he is appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night.) We’ve heard more about a Top Gun 2 from him than his latest film. Maybe Universal Pictures figures the franchise promotes itself, especially if it’s the springboard for the studio’s “dark universe” of classic movie monsters like the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster. Or maybe the people will go to see Tom Cruise no matter what.
American Made opens in theaters on Sept. 29.