Viral Videos and Gossip Websites Changed America and Took Down Tom Cruise

How the Internet changed the last movie star.

Building up to 2005, Cruise had tackled some of the most challenging dramas of any actor of his generation: Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia, Vanilla Sky. Even his popcorn flicks — Minority Report, Collateral, War of the Worlds — were intriguingly dark. He'd never played it safe or shot a cash-grab. He trusted that if he chose movies he believed in, the audience would follow. And he was right.

Post-2005, we've lost out on the audacious films that only Hollywood's most powerful and consistent star could have convinced studios to greenlight. Cruise was in his mid-40s prime — the same years when Newman made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting — and here he was lying low, like the kid who'd run away to London. Imagine the daring roles that he hasn't dared to pursue. Cruise's talent and clout were responsible for an unparalleled string of critical and commercial hits. We gave that up for a gif.

Like an insistent heart monitor, the box office numbers continually prove Cruise is alive, but even he seems to have been convinced of his own premature demise. He'd finally opened up and been harshly punished. Cruise closed ranks, retreating not just from the press but also from his own personal career ambitions. He made fewer films, tried fewer challenges. He wanted us to love him again.

When Cruise's cameo as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder was a hit, instead of daring to think we might embrace him in another comedy, he cautiously considered only a Les Grossman sequel. And when Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol was deemed his comeback (not that he'd ever made a flop — even Knight & Day earned its money back), he decided that audiences wanted only one version of Tom Cruise: the action hero he'd never wanted to become. He's even said yes to Top Gun 2.

Cruise's present-day, crowd-pleasing action crutch hasn't been bad. He's given every film his all, and some of them have been quite good.

His latest, Edge of Tomorrow, is ambitious fun. Cruise plays Lt. Col. Bill Cage, a smooth-talking, cowardly Army recruiter forced to fight on the front lines of mankind's make-or-break battle against alien species the Mimics. No one expects him to live more than a few minutes. And he doesn't.

But Edge of Tomorrow's high-concept twist is that, to his surprise, every time Cruise is killed, time resets and he wakes up the day before the battle, alive and eager to try again until he gets it right. It's an energetic blockbuster that balances Wile E. Coyote cartoon hijinks with his painful, unending martyrdom. It's also a nifty parallel to Cruise himself: the last great screen hero who refuses to die.

It won't earn him an Oscar, but maybe Cruise still has time. After all, Newman won his Oscar at 61.

Amy Nicholson is the chief film critic at L.A. Weekly. Her book Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor will be published in July by Cahiers du Cinema/Phaidon Press.

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Bradford Ashington
Bradford Ashington

yet, u gave enough of a shit to post, didn't ya? and don't believe for a sec ur turd smells like roses because it doesn'

Sabrina Sutherland
Sabrina Sutherland

You have two people in this picture I could give two shits about and didn't someone flush Perez Hilton down the toilet 5 years ago?


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