In the past reaching the age of fifty was considered the mile marker of life where it was time to start practicing wearing orthopedic shoes and eating dinner at four o’clock in the afternoon. Though age, now more than ever, is really just a number, it still should be lauded, at least in some way, how the baby boomer generation is able to keep up with the tanned and hairless twentysomethings on a mission to rule the world. Tom Cruise, arguably Hollywood’s most recognizable leading man, hit the half a century mark this year in July. But where most take the opportunity to pick the more enduring and dignified roles, Cruise is, after over thirty years of acting, still opting for action. It’s not that he couldn’t do the other (if you’ve never seen him in Magnolia or A Few Good Men, you’re seriously missing out on some tremendous performances) but he seems to vie for the adrenaline-fueled roles while he’s still got the juice. But after his films this year, it doesn’t appear that he’ll ever run out of gas.
Beginning with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (which came out December 2011, but since its theater run went well over into 2012, I’m going to count it), Cruise reprised his role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt in possibly the best M:I movie yet. Harkening back to the highly tense plot design of the original film from 1996, Hunt and his team find themselves framed for blowing up the Kremlin and must find a way to clear their names while hunting down the real villain as well as not getting caught by the agency that disavowed them. Next there was Rock of Ages: a terrible movie built on a popular albeit structurally weak Broadway musical of the same name. The only reason to have seen the movie was to listen to the mostly decent covers of some great eighties rock music…well, that and Tom Cruise. His rendition of rock god Stacee Jaxx was part Brett Michaels, part Axl Rose and all parts amazing. The mostly shirtless showed off just how cut he really is as well as showing off his previously unknown singing skills, making his cover of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” the best moment of the whole movie. Lastly there’s Jack Reacher which stars Cruise as the eponymous hero, a former military police homicide investigator working to uncover the truth behind an Army sniper and five people he supposedly killed. The movie itself is very run-of-the-mill, a completely average cop-looks-for-the-truth, cat-and-mouse kind of film, but it’s still fun as hell, complete with one awesome car chase, many heart pounding hand-to-hand fights, and Cruise’s stoic and irreverent and slightly cheeky Reacher carries the movie with a take-no-prisoners attitude minus the sentimentality that bogs down so many action movies nowadays.
Quinquagenarian makes the age of fifty sound infinitely more unpleasant, but you still couldn’t put the word next to Tom Cruise and make him unappealing. He’s at middle age, he’s just ended marriage number three, but nothing seems to be slowing him down, and the trailer for his new movie Oblivion, from TRON: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski, is proof of that. The man can seriously act (if you think otherwise its probably only because of the whole scientology thing) and he’s seriously fit. You can’t look at that feat in Ghost Protocol, the high flying stunt the he did himself where he was hanging off the side of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and not be impressed by him. Besides, have you seen him lately? He is arguably (two words: Top Gun and volleyball) sexier than he’s ever been.