10 Underrated Tom Cruise Movies That Deserve More Credit
We all know him as "Mission: Impossible" and "Top Gun" star, but there's so much more to Cruise' filmography, after all.
Here are some of the almost criminally underrated Tom Cruise movies that deserve a watch or two.
1. Taps (1981)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 68%
This one's old school – like, Tom Cruise is still a teenager old school. He plays David Shawn, a military cadet in a school facing closure due to budget cuts. After an accidental shooting during a confrontation with locals, the cadets, led by Brian Moreland (Timothy Hutton), decide to arm themselves and stand their ground.
Tensions rise as the military and law enforcement try to regain control of the situation. Young David takes the militant defense to an extreme, adding to an already tense standoff.
2. All the Right Moves (1983)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%
Cruise is Stefen Djordjevic, a high school football player in a small Pennsylvania town. He's desperately seeking a college scholarship to escape his limited future. After a critical game loss, a clash with his coach results in him getting kicked off the team and losing his scholarship chances.
The majority of the movie is a gritty, ground-level look at the struggles Stefen faces, from his relationship issues to the near-impossibility of leaving his dead-end town.
3. Vanilla Sky (2001)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 43%
After a terrible car accident caused by his ex-lover, David Aames' face is horribly disfigured. Aames tries to hold on to his sanity while dealing with his shattered appearance, but things get weirder. He's charged with murder, experiences bizarre shifts in reality, and can't tell if he's dreaming or awake.
His messed-up love life, corporate intrigue, and alternate realities collide in a charged climax.
4. The Last Samurai (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 66%
Set in 1876, the movie sees Cruise as Nathan Algren, an American military officer hired to train the Imperial Japanese Army. Japan is modernizing and wants to crush the old Samurai resistance.
Algren is captured by the Samurai after a battle, but instead of killing him, they bring him to their village. As winter passes, Algren becomes part of the community and even fights alongside them. When the time comes for the final showdown against the Imperial Army, Algren is forced to make a choice that could cost him everything.
5. Collateral (2004)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
Vincent, played by Tom Cruise, is a contract killer with a very specific mission. He hires Max, a cab driver, to drive him around Los Angeles as he carries out five hits. It doesn't take long for Max to realize his passenger's deadly intent. He tries to alert the police by intentionally crashing the cab, but Vincent ends up killing the detectives who arrive on the scene.
Max's night is a constant fear, but also a bizarre form of bonding with Vincent. They encounter drug lords, get pulled over by the police, and visit Max's hospitalized mom, all while Vincent is still carrying out his assignments.
6. Legend (1985)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 42%
Tom Cruise stars as Jack O'The Green, a forest dweller in a quest to save his love, Princess Lili, and his homeland from the Lord of Darkness. The evil entity wants to create eternal night by killing the last of the unicorns. Jack teams up with a group of fairies, elves, and dwarfs to stop the dark lord.
They journey through twisted forests and enchanted lands, facing all kinds of magical creatures and traps set by the villain.
7. Far and Away (1992)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%
Joseph Donnelly, a poor Irish tenant farmer, decides to seek his fortune in America. After a botched attempt to avenge his father's death, Joseph joins Shannon Christie, the landlord's daughter, who's also headed for the U.S.
They arrive in Boston, dirt poor but eager to make a life for themselves. The two struggle to survive in the New World, preparing for the Oklahoma land rush, a chaotic and lawless race to claim territory.
8. Jack Reacher (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%
Tom Cruise steps into the shoes of Jack Reacher, an ex-military investigator who's kind of like a ghost – no records, no social media, nada. He shows up in Pittsburgh after a sniper kills five people. Despite the police having a suspect in custody, Reacher believes something's off. He joins forces with Helen Rodin, the defense attorney, and investigates the case himself.
Conspiracies? Check. Suspenseful car chases? Check. A twisting plot with high stakes? Double check.
9. Lions for Lambs (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 27%
In this politically charged drama, Cruise plays Senator Jasper Irving, who's got a new military strategy for the War in Afghanistan. The movie follows three interlinked storylines: Irving explaining his plan to a journalist, two soldiers in Afghanistan implementing the plan, and their former professor discussing the state of American politics with a disinterested student.
10. The Color of Money (1986)
Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Cruise is Vincent Lauria, a super-talented but naive pool player. He teams up with "Fast Eddie" Felson (Paul Newman), a former pool hustler turned liquor salesman. The movie follows their tour through various pool halls, as Eddie teaches Vincent the tricks of the trade. But the young prodigy's arrogance and inability to control his emotions become obstacles.
Eventually, their partnership reaches a breaking point in a form of a high-stakes pool game that neither can afford to lose.