From fighter jets to two-bit thugs, there’s no bad guy’s ass Tom Cruise hasn’t kicked.
And now the Oscar-nominated action star is back in theaters to go 12 rounds with an alien race in the sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow. As Cruise’s character fights the same epic battle over and over, Groundhog Day-style, until he can defeat the enemy, audiences are promised some amazing set pieces.
To celebrate Cruise’s latest stint as big-screen hero, SPINOFF looks back at six of his most memorable action scenes.
Mission: Impossible: Stealing the NOC List
This iconic scene is pure polish: intense, suspenseful and just damn fun.
1996 gave us our first big-screen Mission, forcing Cruise’s IMF Agent Ethan Hunt to go rogue and steal the NOC List from CIA headquarters in an effort to clear his name. The result is a literal high-wire act that milks tension with nothing but silence and a few beads of sweat – cementing the sequence as one of the decade’s best.
Jack Reacher: Parking Lot Brawl
“Remember: You wanted this,” Cruise’s Jack Reacher cautions before effortlessly taking down five guys single-handedly. This underappreciated 2012 action thriller is one of Cruise’s best genre efforts in years, giving the actor plenty of scenes like this one to demonstrate how good he is at playing your garden variety ex-MP-turned-badass kick-puncher.
Mission: Impossible III: Bridge Sequence
J.J. Abrams’ feature debut is arguably his best action movie, and one of the more exciting installments of the Mission franchise. Cruise’s Hunt must battle TAC gear-wearing gunmen hellbent on breaking supervillain Philip Seymour Hoffman out of custody. The bad guys employ a UAV drone to dispense Hunt, resulting in both the film’s most iconic shot and the best use of a Dodge Stratus in the history of ever.
Knight and Day: Airplane Brawl
It’s OK if you missed Knight and Day when it was in theaters; so did we. But we’re so glad we caught up with it, especially for this close-quarters combat sequence set in the narrow aisles of an in-flight jet.
Director James Mangold (The Wolverine) stages one hell of a fight scene, highlights of which include inventive uses of arm rests and overhead bins to dispatch the bad guys.
Minority Report: Everybody Runs
In this underrated 2002 sci-fi thriller, Cruise plays a cop whose job is to bust murderers before they kill, using Pre-Crime’s “precogs” to predict and prevent homicides. But when Cruise’s Detective Jon Anderton is framed for a murder he has yet to commit, he pulls a Fugitive – chased down buildings and over mag-lev cars – culminating in an escape from a car factory via driving a newly built ride off the assembly line.
Top Gun: Maverick’s Final Dogfight
Of all the sophisticated weaponry aboard his fighter jet, all Maverick needs to take out some MiGs are … air brakes? Don’t question it; it’s awesome.
In addition to introducing us to the wonderful world of slow-mo, shirtless men’s volleyball, Top Gun also proved that all one needs to overcome his demons is swooping in at the last minute to save the day. This exciting, practical effects-driven sequence still holds up almost 30 years later.