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Best Tom Cruise and director collaborations

Writer: Casey Chong


Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal in "American Made".

Throughout his 30 year-plus career, Tom Cruise has worked with numerous directors ranging from legendary filmmakers (e.g. Francis Ford Coppola in "The Outsiders", Martin Scorsese in "The Color Of Money" and Oliver Stone in "Born On The Fourth Of July") to contemporary helmers (e.g. Brad Bird in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" and Joseph Kosinski in "Oblivion").

In his upcoming crime drama titled "American Made" which is based on the life of a former TWA pilot Barry Seal, Cruise reunites with "Edge Of Tomorrow" director Doug Liman for the second time around. They are already set to collaborate once again in "Edge Of Tomorrow" sequel titled "Live Die Repeat And Repeat".


To coincide with the upcoming release of "American Made" this August 31st, here are the three best directors that have successfully worked with Tom Cruise more than once to deliver movies equally impressive as the A-lister himself.

1. Tom Cruise and Tony Scott

Tom Cruise and Tony Scott.

"Top Gun" (1986)

Tom Cruise and Tony Scott on the set of "Top Gun".

Long before "Top Gun", then twenty-something Tom Cruise was already on the verge to Hollywood stardom. That would be "Risky Business", the 1983 romantic comedy that not only launched Cruise's career but made him the '80s Hollywood poster boy for an actor who is best known for his signature cocky hotshot roles.


Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in a scene from "Top Gun".

But it wasn't until he made his first of two successful collaborations with director Tony Scott three years later in "Top Gun". Although the movie received a mixed response upon initial release, "Top Gun" was a huge box-office hit and is widely regarded as one of the quintessential '80s movies ever made. Frankly, it's easy to see why: Tom Cruise's magnetic charm, his sizzling chemistry with Kelly McGillis, the aviator glasses, the iconic soundtrack (Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" and Berlin's Oscar-winning "Take My Breath Away"), the legendary shirtless volleyball scene and of course, the thrilling aerial sequences. Sure, the movie may felt cheesy with all the testosterone-driven homoeroticism (yes, the shirtless volleyball scene quickly came to mind) by today's standard. But it's hard to deny the cultural milestone and all the pop-culture icons that "Top Gun" has helped established in the first place. Of course, this wouldn't have worked if not for Tom Cruise and Tony Scott's creative input that brought everything together.

In 2010, a sequel was announced with both Cruise and Scott set to return, well, to the danger zone. Then came the shocking news about Tony Scott, who ended up committing suicide in 2012 at the age of 68. However, the sequel to "Top Gun" eventually moved on with another director (Joseph Kosinski of "Tron: Legacy" and "Oblivion") and is already set for a July 2019 release under a new title called "Top Gun: Maverick".

"Days Of Thunder" (1990)

Tom Cruise and Tony Scott on the set of "Days Of Thunder".

Four years after their mega success in "Top Gun", Tom Cruise and Tony Scott reunited for the second time in "Days Of Thunder". Famously nicknamed as "Top Car" and "Top Gun on Wheels", the movie is basically a rehash of the "Top Gun" formula from the lead protagonist (Cruise again plays a cocky hotshot) to a blonde love interest (this time it's Nicole Kidman, instead of Kelly McGillis) and right down to an arrogant rival (Cary Elwes, instead of Val Kilmer). The only difference is the subject matter as "Days Of Thunder" deals with the high-speed sports racing of NASCAR instead of manoeuvring a fighter jet. Despite the formulaic structure, "Days Of Thunder" remains glossy and entertaining enough. Cruise's charismatic performance as stock car racer Cole Trickle is spot-on as usual. This movie is also famous for Nicole Kidman's first Hollywood debut, in which she ended up dating Cruise and got married the same year. The spectacular race scenes are among the highlights of this movie, thanks to its real driving stunts and the inclusion of real-life stock car drivers.


Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in a scene from "Days Of Thunder".

Like "Top Gun", "Days Of Thunder" received mixed reviews upon its release in the summer of 1990, but it still made a lot of money at the box office, even though it pales largely in comparison with "Top Gun's" overall financial success.

2. Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg

Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg.

"Minority Report" (2002)

Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton and Steven Spielberg on the set of "Minority Report".

Steven Spielberg once quoted that "working with Tom [Cruise] was one of the greatest gifts [he's] ever been given by this business". In "Minority Report", both of them worked together in a movie for the first time ever. Based on Philip K. Dick's short story of the same name, the big-budget sci-fi blockbuster boasts a captivating premise that asks us: What would be the consequences if one able to see into the future and arrest people before they commit a crime? An intriguing blend of old-fashioned whodunit, a thinking man's sci-fi picture and a 1940s film noir complete with Janusz Kaminski's bleak and moody desaturated cinematography, "Minority Report" is particularly notable for its visual and thematic achievements.


The famous bathtub scene where the blindfolded Tom Cruise is attacked by spider robots in "Minority Report".

The first collaboration between Cruise and Spielberg proved to be successful enough, earning "Minority Report" a sizable hit both critically and financially and it even received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing.

"War Of The Worlds" (2005)

Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg on the set of "War Of The Worlds".

The duo worked together again in "War Of The Worlds", which happens to be another sci-fi blockbuster based on a classic story (this time, from the novel of the same name written by H.G. Wells). It was adapted once before in 1953 titled "The War Of The Worlds", which won an Oscar for Best Special Effects. In this big-budget remake, the movie revolves around a divorced dockworker (Cruise) who tries to protect his family when Earth is invaded by aliens. Although a Hollywood blockbuster about an alien invasion has already been exhausted by Roland Emmerich in 1996's "Independence Day", Spielberg is in his top form here. Blessed with an engaging script by David Koepp, "War Of The Worlds" is more than just an effect-laden showcase of mass destruction as the story wisely tapped on the broken-family theme, human fear and even timely echoes of 9/11 references (shots of white dust coating Cruise's face and clothes quickly came to mind). The special effects are top-notch, while Cruise nails his role as a surviving blue-collar dad, Ray Ferrier.


Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier in a scene from "War Of The Worlds".

While Cruise and Spielberg's second collaboration resulted in "War Of The Worlds" another critical and financial hit, the movie has unfortunately ruined their working relationship. Their subsequent falling out was largely due to Cruise's increasingly erratic behaviour ranging from his aggressive promotion of Scientology to his infamous "couch jumping" antic during the Oprah Winfrey show.

3. Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie

Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie.

"Jack Reacher" (2012)

Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie (middle) on the set of "Jack Reacher".

The first collaboration between Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie (best known for his Oscar-winning screenplay for "The Usual Suspects") is a big-screen adaptation of Lee Child's popular "Jack Reacher" crime novel series. The movie was notorious for its controversial casting of Tom Cruise as the title role (Lee Child's main protagonist is originally 6'5" tall with a hulking presence, while Cruise is only 5'7"). But ironically enough, Lee Child himself favours him a lot. Although Cruise doesn't have the ideal physical resemblance that mirrored the character from the novel, he still manages to prove his worth with a typically charismatic performance. McQuarrie, who only made his second directorial effort following the 2000's "The Way Of The Gun", knows his way around in staging effective action sequences. The highlight, of course, is the thrilling '70s-style nighttime car chase scene through the streets of Pittsburgh town. Best of all, the scene alone is tautly framed and edited without any fancy visual-effect trickery or a shaky-cam style. And just so you know, Tom Cruise did all of his own stunt driving during the chase scene.


Tom Cruise and Jai Courtney go mano a mano in "Jack Reacher".

Made at the modest budget of USD60 million, "Jack Reacher" proved to be financially successful enough to warrant a sequel four years later. That sequel was "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back", which sees Tom Cruise reuniting with his "Last Samurai" director Edward Zwick. Unfortunately, the sequel was inferior and pales in comparison with this muscular 2012 original.

"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" (2015)

(L-R) Christopher McQuarrie, Simon Pegg and Tom Cruise on the set of "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" (2015).

Following their fruitful collaboration in "Jack Reacher", Cruise and McQuarrie collaborated again three years later and the result is "Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation". Originally to be helmed by "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol's" Brad Bird who chose not to return, McQuarrie was personally handpicked by Cruise himself to direct the fifth instalment. He turns out to be an excellent choice after all, with McQuarrie once again proving his worth as an accomplished visual stylist in the action department. From the jaw-dropping opening sequence featuring Cruise's Ethan Hunt clinging on the side of the plane during takeoff to the Morocco-set elaborate set pieces involving underwater, car and motorcycle, the action is among the best ever seen in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise.


The thrilling motorcycle chase scene in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation".

"Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" was a huge hit among critics and audiences. In fact, both Cruise and McQuarrie proved to be working so well with each other that the director is returning for "Mission: Impossible 6". Already scheduled for a July 2018 release, it would be the first time in the franchise history that the same director made a "Mission: Impossible" movie more than once.

Cinema Online, 27 August 2017


Related Movies:
American Made (31 Aug 2017)
The Mummy (08 Jun 2017)
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (30 Jul 2015)
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (15 Dec 2011)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (20 Oct 2016)
Edge Of Tomorrow (05 Jun 2014)

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