By Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood April 20, 2013 at 4:29PM
"Tom Cruise was really doing it. He was really hanging off the building," writes Taffy Brodesser-Akner in a warm essay for The New York Times about the enduring star, who is now age 50. She's recalling the scene from "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" in which Cruise, rather than a stunt double, scaled the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
As of Friday we can see Cruise doing more stunts in his latest mega-hit "Oblivion" (trailer below, more on the movie here). In "Learning to (Re)Love Tom Cruise," Brodesser-Akner examines the collective adulation of Cruise in spite of, and perhaps because of, the spooky aura of Scientology that surrounds him. "Who has ever worked so hard for our pleasure?" she asks.
There are no catchphrases in the Tom Cruise oeuvre. Instead, his trademark is just a preternaturally good-looking man trying to get things done — to run across the building in time; get to the virtual-reality arcade in time; take down that MIG in time. In his effects-heavy action films like “Minority Report” or the Missions Impossible or the in- theaters-now “Oblivion,” he is the anchor of reality in a sea of computer-generated effects. And he’s very good at that, as it turns out.
The career of Tom Cruise spans goofy boyish roles in "Risky Business" (1981) and "Cocktail" (1988) -- a quality retained in most of his recent performances -- as well as pseudo-ballsy grasps at drama in "Magnolia" (1999) and "Lions for Lambs" (2007). In between, when he's not holding his own in such ill-advised misfires as the musical "bomb Rock of Ages," he's king of the action hero crowdpleaser. "Oblivion" is projected to deliver more than $30 million this weekend in North America.
Brodesser-Akner commends Cruise -- and the action movies for which he dangles from buildings -- as a sincere form of entertainment in a time when that can be an elusive thing. Read the full NYT article here.