Monday, June 16, 2014

Tom Cruise: Career on the Edge of Tomorrow

So Edge of Tomorrow came out last week and I'd recommend seeing it. I probably won't get the chance, but you should.

In case you didn't know, Edge of Tomorrow is Groundhogs Day meets Starship Troopers. Groundhogs Day is one of the best movies made by a human and Starship Troopers is a campy, Verhoevensque action romp that's indisputably fun.

Those unquestionable facts aren't a hard sell on Edge of Tomorrow though. Tom Cruise is. Most people think of him Maverick. Fair enough. His dramatic roles from '86 to '96 are his most iconic. A glance back at the last fifteen years shows a different trend though: Tom Cruise is one of the most essential science fiction actor of our time. 
Look, folks like Ian McKellan and Hugo Weaving are great, but they don't have the cachet to make a movie[1]. Would anyone have seen Minority Report without Cruise's name attached? Vanilla Sky?

Sure, Oblivion came out during a glut of post-apocalyptic projects with big names randomly attached to them--Damon/Elysium & Smith family/After Earth--so you might have missed it, but it's a guy who not only learns that he's a clone, but that he's the threat to the humanity he thought he was saving.

It's obvious that Tom Cruise is in the heyday for his career (Knight and Day notwithstanding). Rock of Ages and Tropic Thunder are his versions of Meet the Fokkers and Analyze This, the fun picture you do between safe pictures. He's got the acclaim, clout, and box office draw to do the movies he loves before he's consigned to the cool grandpa role of an indie movie or trotted out to consecrate shitty remakes of his iconic works.

Tom Cruise is making Mission Impossibles (yes, present tense) and Jack Reachers (yes, plural), but he's also making real science fiction films. These aren't just big, dumb action movies that happen to be set in space; they're movies that never forget to include a dramatic core intrinsically linked to both the human effects of technology and the emotions of an audience.

Some folks might say that's because his religion is science fiction. It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case. Scientology hates gays, so I have no love lost for them.

I don't care where it comes from though. If he was making Battlefield Earth, I wouldn't bother. He's not. He's making Oblivion, a movie about identity and our faith in institutions. He's making Minority Report, which deals with the responsibility of knowing the future. These do what sci-fi movies should do; ask the hard questions while still delivering a solid moviegoing experience.

So go see Edge of Tomorrow. I don't know the movie, but I do know its pedigree.

[1] Patrick Stewart is, if anything, a nerd actor, but he was also in Nemesis, and like Ian McKellan he takes roles instead of making them. Will Smith would probably be the preeminent nerd actor of our time, given films like Men in Black, Hancock, and I Am Legend, but he's not seen that way for some reason.


Terry Moore said...

but it has Tom C. in I have to.

VanVelding said...

C'mon, it's not that bad. He's the tofu of actors; no individual flavor because he takes on that of the environment he's in.

Terry Moore said...

I could see a game of picking what tofu based food he is in each of his movies... last samurai, miso soup.