Tom Cruise stars in Edge of Tomorrow opening… uh… tomorrow, and if he’s proved one thing throughout his career as an action star, it’s that he’s really good at running. In fact, when Cruise updated his Twitter bio recently, he changed it to read “Actor. Producer. Running in movies since 1981.” Showing a shocking level of self-awareness for a Scientologist, frankly.
In honor of Tom Cruise’s new movie, and his refreshing act of self-discovery, we’ve decided to rank all of his movies in which he runs (19 of them, in all), in order of the best depictions of Tom Cruise’s running. Running is what we pay to see in a Tom Cruise film. Though, as you’ll see, not all runs are created equal.
I don’t know if it’s the suit, Cruise’s angular grey flat top, or the fact that it’s probably his best acting performance, but for me, Collateral has always been the gold standard of Tom Cruise running performances. He spends half this movie running, looking like a scary grey-haired robot the whole time. The fact that he’s always gritting his teeth and holding a pistol while he does it add to the degree of difficulty. You want to run fast, you gotta have a relaxed jaw, ask any sprinter. But Tom Cruise knows the rules so well that he can break them.
2. The Firm
Okay, I can’t deny it: I clearly have a special affinity for running a suit. Cruise’s running in The Firm doesn’t have the same maniacal charm as it does in Collateral, but you can tell he’s putting everything into it. A lot of actors they just jog when asked to run on camera, but Cruise legs it out like a champ. He looks like he’s going to pull a hammy. Anyway, I appreciate that his floppy hair bounces along with him in The Firm, and the fact that he’s running in suspenders. Let’s see you try that, Usain Bolt. In suspenders, in an overcoat, with a briefcase – if you like Tom Cruise running, The Firm really has everything.
3. Vanilla Sky
Probably my second or third favorite Tom Cruise movie overall, but in terms of running, it may not have the pure speed of The Firm or Collateral, but that shot of his hair swept back and his runs through Manhattan looking horrified is one of the all time iconic shots of Tom Cruise running.
4. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise runs a lot in Ghost Protocol, but rarely at full speed. Nonetheless, what it lacks in quality, it makes up for in quantity (he runs a LOT) and variety (he runs down a building, across a building through a prison, while dressed as a Russian officer, in a suit, and up and down countless stairs and escalators). If you can’t decide which type of Tom Cruise running you like best, this one offers a nice cross section.
5. Mission Impossible
Tom Cruise runs full speed, in a tux! Still, I could’ve done with more close ups. Tom Cruise running isn’t quite the same when you can’t see his pained facial expression. Come on, De Palma! Show the instrument!
6. Mission Impossible II
Tom Cruise had the perfect hair for running in this, and even did a run-to-commando roll AND a run-to flying drop kick, which get bonus points. But John Woo’s slow-motion really took away from Cruise’s pure speed.
7. The Last Samurai
Tom Cruise barely runs in this, so you might wonder why it’s ranked so highly. It’s because there’s one scene where he runs, teeth gritted in true Tom Cruise-running style, while holding a samurai sword in each hand. Mama mia, that’s some good running!
8. Knight and Day
There’s a lot of good Tom Cruise running in this, but it can be hard to enjoy on account of all of Cameron Diaz’s manic yammering. Show some respect, lady, Tom Cruise is running.
9. Minority Report
All things considered, I think Minority Report is my favorite Tom Cruise movie, and probably my favorite Steven Spielberg movie. But in terms of running, Cruise only really gets up to full speed a couple times, and he’s always tripping or getting hit with stuff. Credit to his acting ability, because we all know the man is sure-footed like a mountain goat in real life, but still disappointing. It’s like watching a Ferrari drive through stop-and-go traffic.
Tom Cruise does a lot of running in this, but rarely at full speed. I blame the varied terrain. I hate to say it, but as good as Tom Cruise is at running, he’s a power runner. It’s not about finesse. Tom Cruise is the Roger Clemens of movie running, and Oblivion tries to turn him into Greg Maddux.
11. Mission Impossible III
Another film in which Tom Cruise does a lot of running, but rarely gets up to full speed. It’s really disappointing. I mean talk about blue balls.
12. Born On The Fourth Of July
They had to show a lot of running in this movie, just to contrast it with the later parts of the film where Tom Cruise’s legs don’t work (spoiler alert). Tom Cruise not being able to run?! What a nightmare!
13. Jerry Maguire
Tough movie to rank here. While it epitomized the guy-running-through-the-airport as rom-com denouement, Cruise barely got up to full speed.
14. Days of Thunder
Not necessarily notable for how much running there was (not much), but there is one incredible scene of Cruise racing Robert Duval that ends in an 80s sitcom-style freeze frame. Amazing.
15. Far and Away
Not a great exhibition of Tom Cruise’s running acumen, all things considered, but he did prove that he could run while wearing a silly costume and yelling in an accent. That’s range!
16. War of the Worlds
The problem with Tom Cruise’s running in War of the Worlds sort of reflects the problems of the movie as a whole. His character never quite knew where the threat was coming from, so his running was tentative, and he never really ran far enough to build up a good head of steam. We don’t pay to see Tom Cruise run around in circles like he’s trying to hail a cab, we want to see those little legs really start chuggin.
Tom Cruise jogs a lot in Cocktail, but I’m not sure you could even classify any of it as “running.” It was early in his career, before directors really understood how to properly utilize his skills.
18. Rain Man
Tom Cruise barely runs in Rain Man. If only he’d been cast in Running Man.
19. Jack Reacher
There’s barely enough running in Jack Reacher to even warrant a mention, but he was running from Werner Herzog, which is pretty cool.