Tom Cruise Runs and We Love It

Posted by Jared Bratt June 3, 2014 2 Comments 9729 views

Dinner with my dad means that at some point it is only natural that our conversation shifts onto the topic of movies. And so the question is posed in my direction: “Who do you think is the hottest male star at the moment?’ Now while I can think of plenty of actors’ names that possess such a meteoric amount of  contemporary credibility when it comes to the pop-culture awareness-factor (Hugh Jackman comes to mind) I still don’t have a definitive answer. The question itself got me thinking — Our current age of selling mainstream Hollywood movies to audiences doesn’t really fall on the shoulders of marketing any one celebrity’s involvement anymore. While the positive to such a theory is that a film’s premise or concept stands for something nowadays. Hordes of mass interest no longer depends upon the specific engagement of just one person, I still believe that the true sad reality is that we all know which fantastical, cape-donning form of concepts have subsequently hijacked global mass-appeal. Pricy personalized paychecks and flamboyant egos aside, the days of the pioneered poster-star vehicles have almost all but subsided.

But then I look at the career of someone like Tom Cruise, and my level of respect only surges. Despite currently having a stripped down and shredded image that seems to keep his skeptics tirelessly engaged, hell-bent in finding new and elaborate ways to label the actor some sort of hell-spawn incarnate (to keep the attention-span of one’s detractors, in a weird way, is almost the mark of true organic charisma), Cruise’s films still make money. And besides an already established cannon of work that, like it or not, is indeed meticulously tied to the history of cinema itself (Risky Business, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Rain Man, Days of Thunder, Born on the 4th of July, Interview with the Vampire, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut, Minority Report, Collateral) Cruise still develops original works of storytelling from the ground up. Quite simply put, Cruise is to the word “movie-star” as Jaws is to the term “blockbuster”. Even more-so, in this day and age, Cruise himself might just be one of the last remaining movie-stars left alive.

Gearing up with expectancy for what I think is going to be the first worthwhile blockbuster (for me) to come along in quite some time, I cannot wait to see what director Doug Liman and the always game Tom Cruise have in store for us audiences this summer. Marketing seems to have finally ramped up for their upcoming Sc-Fi/actioner, and if you in fact don’t know what film I’m referring to here, I’m talking about The Edge of Tomorrow.

Exceptionally positive reviews have commenced coming out of the woodwork (for the movie) in recent weeks, in what’s being described as “Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day”, however, I’d be seeing this picture regardless of any one critique saying “yay” or nay.” Liman is responsible for two of my favorite films of all time (Swingers and Go) and the Bourne Identity is pretty major league as well, but overall it’s the teaming of Liman’s knack for inspiring intimately grounded, witty, authentic performances, and both his penchant for blockbuster and Cinema Vérité influenced styles of camerawork — All this combined with one of the most criminally underrated (and unjustly judged) acting talents cinema has to offer.

Whatever the genre, no matter how large or small the scale of the production, the truth is, the amalgamation of both these filmmaking forces would have me center-row, opening-day without ever batting an eyelash. Nobody runs like Tom Cruise on-screen, and I mean this in an a completely serious manner. I am legitimately looking forward to seeing the infamous intensity-fueled, sprawling vein-pumping trademark running-man magnetism of Cruise, now bogged down by a hundred and twenty-five pounds of supped-up  military/machine tech. So in running with this whole lone-wolf, flash theme, here are six of my favorite committed-to-film Tom Cruise runs.

#6. ‘Minority Report’ — “Everybody runs.”

Wrongfully implicated in the Precog-driven dystopia that sets up this Orwellian world , the innovative first collaboration between master-class Steven Spielberg and Cruise, binds the actor’s skill for beating the odds on foot into layers upon layers of theme and visceral futuristic focused action. The sequence in which Cruise’s protagonist, John Anderton, is outnumbered by the approaching jet-pack equipped swat of 2054, not only displays Spielberg’s maestro magic firing on all cylinders, but it also allows Cruise to stretch his feet quite literally both on the ground, though narrow desaturated alleyways, and in startling air-born fashion. Sooner or later we’re all wanted for something. “Everybody runs.”

#5. ‘Vanilla Sky’ — “Life is but a dream”

You know you’re in a dream sequence when you find yourself utterly deserted amidst a soulless and depopulated cityscape. It should be even more apparent that you’re lucid-dreaming through some sort of hyper-real slumber-party when the abandoned city in question just so happens to be the intersection of  Times Square, New York. Set to the pulse-pounding hypnotic electronica of Mint Royale’s ‘From Rusholme with Love’, David, the star of his own personalized bliss turned hell, feverishly begins to search for the exit-door of his rapidly increasing hallucinogenic nightmare. This movie (by far) marks one of Cruise’s most undervalued performances, and naturally, given that this is indeed a Cameron Crowe movie, the film features an outstanding soundtrack.

#4. ‘War of the Worlds’ — Don’t look back, aliens are obliterating the neighbors

What more motivation do you need to burn rubber than witnessing a bunch of alien-sentinels protruding from the earth, and without hesitation, they start strategically annihilating virtually everything in site. Cruise runs, fear splashed across his face, as bodies vaporize into ash and infrastructures spontaneously combust all around him. The Aliens are deliberately placed in the background of the action in this sequence making the scene itself all the more effective in its grandiose staging and horrific ramifications. New Jersey suburbia won’t be phoning home anytime soon.

#3. ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ — Cruise’s foot bravado is even more fierce in IMAX

At this point in the longevity of Cruise’s career, you’d think we’d be accustomed to the expected beat of the actor suddenly sprinting into action. Nevertheless, on the hunt for the villainous escaped target in Ghost Protocol, the Mission Impossible series’ protagonist, Ethan Hunt, dashes out the front doors of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and seemingly straight towards  the lens of the camera while a massive sandstorm engulfs the city from behind. Cruise’s energy and determination never flinches one iota, and the extreme vigor of such a sequence is only enhanced when witnessing it all transpire 70 millimeters high and 15 perforations wide.  

#2. ‘Mission Impossible’ — “Hasta lasagna, don’t get any on ya.”

“Red light, green light.” When Ethan Hunt is first subjected to a shameful inquiry into the apparently framed murders of his fellow IMF team, suspense and tension commences its inevitable crackling. Shot with Hitchcockian flare, this sequence of Hunt being interrogated at a restaurant dinner-table is already dynamite enough, and that’s without the practically large-scale action set-piece that soon follows. As Hunt’s blood boils with humility, he discretely meshes the two ends of an explosive adhesive, designed to look like a stick of gum, together. He then launches the gum across the dinning-room location as it sticks to a high-rise aquarium window and explodes unleashing gallons upon gallons of flooding water. Hunt evades capture while also not succumbing to a waterlogged death by drowning. Even more impressive is that everyone involved (in shooting this bit) only had one shot/one take at getting it right.

#1. ‘The Firm’ — The entire house is “bugged”, you’re being surveilled 24/7 — GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!!

Imagine you just found out that your luxurious dream house is actually some sort of peephole for spying eyes to keep tabs on your every move made and your every word uttered. How would you react? Well for starters, I think it’s safe to say we’d feel a wave of overwhelming dirtiness. Violated on every level imaginable. Perhaps some fresh air would be in order, and most likely, you’d want to be anywhere but in the confines of your once cherished domestic domain. Naturally upon learning of his conspirators’ reveal in Sydney Pollack’s The Firm, Cruise’s Mitch McDeere bolts for the hills trying to contain the emotion while processing the paranoia. It’s been ages since I’ve seen the film in its entirety, but I will never forget the power conveyed (in this scene) wih one simple run down the street.

About Jared Bratt

Born and raised in Montreal, now based in Toronto, Jared is a writer/actor/editor/director keeping up the good fight against all things non-creative & soul-sucking.

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There are 2 Comments

  1. idleprimate
    - June 8, 2014
      -   Reply

    I just watched The Firm last night for the first time since it came out. It does have some great running not to mention intensity during the tail end of the chase. It’s a great performance from Tom Cruise’s early career and Gene Hackman, as always, positively shines, stealing every scene he is in.

    I get so used to reading either dismissal of TC’s acting due to the fact that he’s “just” a movie star, or lurid rubbernecking at his marriages, speculation about his orientation and vitriol about his religious affiliation that it was a real pleasure to read someone suggest he is a talented actor who has held his place at the top of the food chain for decades, in every genre from sci-fi to oscar bait.

    But what I really liked was the nature of this list. It is only in the last few years as my ability to appreciate different aspects and nuances of acting have expanded and with occasional re-watches of his films that I started to get really impressed with his physicality as an actor. There is a piano wire precision to his movements, a balletic grace and when required, an explosive frenzy or a silence commanding stillness. Even some of his signature emotional evocations–intense determination, fury, are built on a foundation of coiled physical tension–the most prominent part of the performance may be in the face and voice, but it is fueled by the entire body.

    If one was not a fan, one might easily dismiss these things as characteristic of him, rather than performance, demonstration of practiced skills–he is, after all, often criticized for a somewhat narrow range or simply playing his charismatic self. It would just be wrong though. Watching some extras on the discs for War of the Worlds(far from my favorite Spielberg or Cruise film) and some filming sequences were being documented–rehearsal run throughs, shots being filmed and moments in between takes. The scene in question was–you guessed it– him running, leaping and dodging. It takes place during the first attack, in his neighbourhood. Two things really stood out. First, his choreography of the run was exact. It wasn’t just, run and then jump over that then run over there. It was exact footing, number and placement of steps of steps, head positioning(for alien machines that aren’t actually there for him to look at), torso pivots. There didn’t appear to be any guide markings either, and whether he was running the gauntlet full tilt or jogging a practice run, there was a precise choreography and gazelle like flow. The second thing that stood out is that whenever the director yelled cut, the character disappeared. The posture changed, the gait, the way his arms hang, stance. He had reverted back to himself, turned off that energy that focuses all of himself on telling the camera the story. It is something I notice more and more when watching disc special features. Outtakes often show you ways that some actors give full body performances

    Some of what actors do is not obvious, other than when they aren’t doing it: the performance is flat, or doesn’t sell or isn’t captivating or fails to give you cues and information. It’s the absence of craft that is visible, so it is easy to overlook talents, especially when, as is so common, the goal seems to be a contrary spite towards whoever is at the top. And really, the successful execution of acting craft shouldn’t be visible. You aren’t there to witness the actor, the actor is a tool in drawing you in to the story. If you have to tell the audience to pay no mind to the little man behind the curtain, then you haven’t succeeded.

    Cheers again for a pleasant surprise.

    • - June 8, 2014
        -   Reply

      Wow, thank you for this amazing response. Since writing for this site, I’ve just been happy to have a voice & get my sense across, likes & dislikes, and in the case of TC, it just blows my mind how tarnished his very name has become when all I see is a lover of film, extremely talented & dedicated actor that you could almost call a filmmaker himself just based on how much he puts himself into his films and drives for the production of said films. I see everything you’re talking about, and TC films have defined and shaped my own love of movies from young to present. So I’m happy to jump on the defense and get something positive out there. At the end of the day, the guy’s got true powerhouse talent that deserves to be recognized over so many of the actors that obtain spotlight acclaim nowadays. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to respond. Truly appreciated. Best. -Jared

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