Over the summer, Federalist Senior Editor David Harsanyi — someone I consider to be a friend, mentor, and crime expert — has repeatedly downplayed the work of the greatest action star of our lifetimes: Tom Cruise.
During a June 21 episode of “‘You’re Wrong’ with Mollie Hemingway and David Harsanyi,” for example, he wrongly claimed the first three “Indiana Jones” movies are better than the “Mission Impossible” franchise. He also claimed a few weeks after that discussion that, after initially liking the film, he thought “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One” could have been written by a “ninth grader.”
As it turns out, David fancies himself as a Tom Cruise movie aficionado — as do I. In fact, roughly five years ago, Mr. Harsanyi penned an article ranking every Cruise movie from best to worst. And while I respect David’s opinions — mostly — I strenuously object to his podcast hot takes and list. They are simply, as legacy media like to say, “misinformation.”
In order to provide Federalist readers with an accurate ranking, I’ve crafted my own list of Cruise’s films. (For the record, I have yet to see “Lions for Lambs” or “Endless Love,” so neither of them is included below.)
1. “Top Gun: Maverick”: I may be biased since I wasn’t alive when the original “Top Gun” was released, but this film is so much better than its predecessor. Having the actors fly in actual F-18s to film their aerial scenes added so much quality to an already visually stunning film. Combined with the emotional elements carried over from the original and the on-screen dynamic between Maverick (Cruise) and Rooster (Miles Teller), this movie cements itself as one of the best action films of all time and the best picture of Cruise’s career.
2. “A Few Good Men”: It’s an incredibly captivating feature, and Cruise and Jack Nicholson deserve immense praise for their compelling performances. The courtroom scene between their characters will always be one of the most iconic in cinematic history.
3. “Magnolia”: It takes viewers a while to grasp the interconnected storylines and how they fit together, but once you do, this film becomes much more entertaining. Cruise’s performance as the internally damaged Frank Mackey stands out as one of the picture’s best.
4. “Rain Main”: I don’t care what David says, this film is wonderful. Not only does it include your funny cross-country hijinks; it also does a terrific job of cultivating the relationship between Charlie (Cruise) and Raymond (Dustin Hoffman).
5. “Edge of Tomorrow”: Total banger of a movie. Cruise and Emily Blunt make a great pairing, and the action and storyline are fantastic.
6. “The Last Samurai”: An incredibly well-executed picture that highlights the importance of honor and self-discipline. Plus, it’s got top-notch action.
7. “Top Gun”: An all-time classic that stands the test of time and gives me the need for speed (not the drug).
8. “Jerry Maguire”: A great film that allows Cruise to exemplify his depth as an actor and has something for the guys (sports) and gals (mushy romance).
9. “Mission Impossible” films: A franchise that gets better with age. Definitely one of the more underappreciated film series out there.
10. “Collateral”: Makes you wish Cruise would take on more villainous roles. He’s so dang good at it.
11. “The Color of Money”: Cruise and Paul Newman are terrific in this entertaining ’80s hit.
12. “Risky Business”: I wish I made as much money as Joel did when I was in high school.
13. “Tropic Thunder”: Les Grossman is the best part of the movie.
14. “The Firm”: A compelling film that takes the boring legal profession and turns it into a high-stakes thriller. Who said practicing law had to be boring?
15. “Minority Report”: I initially wasn’t a big fan after watching this one, but slowly came to appreciate its storyline and creativity as time went on. It also portrays government overreach as a negative, which is always nice.
16. “Jack Reacher”: You can never go wrong with a Cruise thriller, and this one is no exception.
17. “Born on the Fourth of July”: While it doesn’t live up to critics’ hype, it serves as a great reminder there are real costs to war.
18. “All the Right Moves”: A quaint, sporty picture with small-town vibes.
19. “American Made”: It holds up despite its inaccuracies.
20. “Far and Away”: Mediocre is the best word to describe this one.
21. “Oblivion”: Makes you wonder what a realistic film starring Cruise and Morgan Freeman would look like.
22. “Eyes Wide Shut”: The absurd plot makes it kind of interesting.
23. “Taps”: It’s CHAZ before CHAZ was cool.
24. “Valkyrie”: Still somewhat entertaining despite its predictable ending.
25. “Interview with the Vampire”: I never understood the appeal of this one, but Cruise’s wacky character makes it bearable.
26. “Knight and Day”: A tries-too-hard-to-be-funny knockoff of “Mission Impossible.”
27. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”: They should have named it “Jack Reacher Babysits a Feminist” instead.
28. “The Outsiders”: The original novel by S. E. Hinton is better.
29. “Vanilla Sky”: The reveal at the end is the only reason this one isn’t ranked lower.
30. “Cocktail”: Cruise did his best with a poorly written script.
31. “War of the Worlds”: In which a deadbeat dad (Cruise) takes his kids on an impromptu road trip to outrun aliens, who are invading Earth because…?
32. “Days of Thunder”: I can’t believe David ranked this snoozefest so high on his list.
33. “Losin’ It”: It’s bad, but major props to Cruise for landing Shelley Long at such a young age.
34. “The Mummy”: It’s best we pretend this film was never made.
35. “Rock of Ages”: Not even Julianne Hough’s hotness could save this dumpster fire of a picture. But who knew Cruise could sing?
36. “Legend”: I fell asleep while watching this.
This content was originally published here.